Scientology's Dept. 20 - a memoir
Part 2 - The Raid
by Robert Vaughn Young
"Vaughn, don't go upstairs. We're being raided by the FBI."
I stopped in my tracks, stunned. It was about 9 o'clock in the morning and I was walking up the backside of the Manor, from the parking lot when someone had intervened. From where I stood now at the entrance to the patio, there was nothing unusual. I had parked in the adjoining lot and hadn't noticed anything unusual. I looked at the lobby perhaps 70 feet in front of me. People were milling about and there were definitely too many people in dark suits for this hour.
"What the hell are you talking about!" I asked in complete puzzlement. FBI raid? It was unthinkable.
"The FBI," he said breathlessly. "They're upstairs, both floors. They're all over the place. We're being raided. No one's to go up."
My numbed shock turned to outrage. The FBI in _our_ offices? What in the hell! I strode ahead into the lobby, getting madder with each step.
Several people that I recognized were milling about, as if lost. A half dozen men in dark suits, some with earplugs and FBI identification badges hanging from their breast pockets were standing in two groups, reviewing some papers. One was talking into a walkie-talkie. One of our people was taking pictures with a tiny camera. Good. As I entered, I could see a suit was at the reception desk and another at the front doors, prohibiting anyone but agents with breast badges from entering. Without a pause, I left turned at the reception desk and headed to the elevator, about 20 feet away. An agent stood in front of the closed door.
"The elevator cannot be used," he said with a stone face.
Without a word, I continued past him to the freight elevator immediately around the corner. No one was guarding it and the elevator was there. I pulled the old, metal accordion gate back, listening to the rattle and squeaks, wondering if the agents would hear it, then stepped in, closed it and pushed the button for the sixth floor.
I had traveled this elevator and the other for four years but this one was the longest ride ever. I watched the chipped, dirty walls of the floors slide by as the ancient box squeaked upward. FBI. FBI. All I could think was FBI. How the hell. What the hell. How could it happen? What are they doing? There was no doubt they were the enemy but they aren't supposed to do that! They can't do it! Why, why, why? FBI, FBI, FBI. Our function from the day we were formed in 1966 was to attack the enemy and to protect the organization from attack. How could this happen?
The elevator strained to a halt and I pulled the doors open to find an agent standing outside in the hall. They were beginning to all look alike. They were the enemy.
"Where do you think you're going," he asked.
"To my _office_," I snarled through clenched teeth as I stepped around him, biting off the word "asshole" before I said it. For whatever reason, he said nothing as I turned the corner and moved down the short hallway. Directly ahead of me at the other end was the office of the Deputy Guardian for the US, Henning Heldt's. Across from it was the Office of the Controller, Mary Sue Hubbard, manned by several staff who sent reports to her. There was a gaggle of agents in that direction, some hauling boxes towards the elevator I was denied. Some were moving between the two offices. At the t-junction in the middle, I turned to my right and headed down the long hallway. Odd, I thought. This one was empty. No agents. Farther down on the left was the two doors to the Legal Bureau and across from them were the two to the Public Relations Bureau, where I worked. All doors were closed.
I stopped at the PR bureau door and knocked as I looked back to my right, at agents passing back and forth at the other end.
"Who is it?" came a muffled voice.
"Vaughn," I said as I watched the other end of the hall.
The old, dark brown door cracked open as a face looked at me and then swung open. I stepped in. Four staff were standing about, clearly stunned. A women was sitting at a desk in the corner crying, while another consoled her.
"Artie wants you," I was told as the door closed and locked behind me.
Artie's office was immediately to the right, normally accessed only by the other hall door. But now the connecting door was open. I stepped in. Artie was at his desk, pale, clearly shaken. Another four or so PR staff were standing about the small office.
"How did you get up here?" Artie asked with a touch of incredulity.
"Elevator," I said. "What the hell is going on?"
"We're being raided by the FBI," he said. I felt like saying, "No shit," but bit my tongue. "Right now they're hitting Henning's and the Controller's office. They're also raiding B1 at the Complex and the DC org. They haven't come down here yet. We gotta work out what to do."
What was left of my stomach fell out the bottom. That explained why the agents were all at the other end of the building for now. B1 was Bureau One, the Intelligence Bureau. Several months ago, B1 had moved over to the block-long complex of buildings being converted over on Sunset Boulevard. If the FBI was hitting them, we were in deep shit. Why the DC org, I couldn't figure and didn't want to ask. Our first problem was right here.
"What are they after?" I asked.
"They have a search warrant as long as your arm," someone said. "Whole long list of Guardian Orders and program files, including Snow White."
My now-empty stomach took the blow.
"Shit," I said aloud. "I'll be right back."
Nobody said anything. I guess they were still too stunned. Artie merely nodded blankly as I turned and went back into the PR Bureau. It didn't look as if anyone had moved and the tears were still flowing in the corner. I took up the ancient marble stairs to the next floor where we kept the Snow White section. Jeff and our admin person was there. He was as paler than Artie and the others but he seemed relieved to see me.
"Did you know we're being raided by the FBI?" he asked, his voice breaking slightly. I was beginning to wonder if I sounded as worried. Probably so but I didn't really have time to stop and wonder.
"Yeah, yeah, Jeff," I said as I headed for my filing cabinet. "I just came up from Artie's office."
"What's going to happen?" he asked as I pulled open the top drawer.
"I don't know, Jeff," I said as I looked for the "hot file." "I gotta do this first."
The "hot file" contained documents that we had been sent by B1. At the top they were stamped, "Non-FOIA," meaning they were not obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
When the Legal Bureau got documents from an agency through an FOIA request, , they were stamped, "FOIA" at the top, with the name of the agency it came from. The "Non-FOIA" documents came directly in from B1, sometimes from Cindy, one of our Snow White counterparts over there. We had been briefed that the documents were not for public use, meaning we couldn't release them beyond our office. They were intended merely to keep us briefed on what was out there and what we were dealing with. It was up to us to "sanitize" the information contained, if we used them.
The documents were always from some government office, such as Interpol's US office in Washington, DC, the Department of Justice office in Washington, DC, and the Internal Revenue Service, Washington, DC. One time I asked Cindy how they came by them, violating a basic unwritten code to never ask B1 what they do. (Then again, I never imagined they were obtained by burglary.) Cindy smiled and said, "Oh, we have friends who help out." I never thought about it again until a few minutes earlier. I have no idea why the connection was made in Artie's office but I knew I had to get them out of my files before the FBI walked in.
Because we never really kept the "Non-FOIA" documents around for long, the file was blissfully small. There were only about ten sheets of paper in it. Good. I yanked them out of the folder and flipped through them. There were a few from US Interpol office and the rest were from the Department of Justice. I slammed the drawer shut.
"Artie said they're after Snow White," Jeff said, his voice tense and worried.
"Yeah, I heard," I tried to think what to do now. I went into the bathroom and checked the toilet. Typical of a raid, the water was turned off. The worse news was that someone had already flushed it, using the stored water. I'd have that problem in each room in the building. I had to get these papers out of the Manor. I folded them up and shoved them into my pocket and headed back down the stairs to the same scene as before and stuck my head into Artie's office.
"I'll be right back," I said.
"Where are you going?" Artie asked.
"Out. I have to do something. I'll be right back."
Before anyone could ask more, I moved to the hall door.
"Someone lock it," I said as I unbolted it and stepped into the hall. The door closed behind me and the deadbolt went into place as I headed down the hall to the parade of agents moving back and forth in front of me. Straight ahead, at the junction, was the Snow White Programs Office. Two agents were standing in front of the closed door. I wondered how Linda was faring inside.
At the junction, I turned left. Agents were still loading boxes into the elevator but, by sheer luck, the freight elevator was still there. So was the agent I had passed a few minutes earlier.
You're out of your fucking mind, Young, I told myself as I walked towards him. They're looking for Snow White documents and now you're carrying the hottest ones. How do I explain it, I wondered. "Uh, homework?"
The agent watched me as I approached. He said nothing.
"Now I'm leaving," I said tersely. I knew he probably had every right to search me but my hands were empty and the papers were tightly folded into my back pants pocket.
He nodded so I opened the door, stepped in, pulled it closed and pushed "lobby."
As the tired elevator clanked it's way down, I took my first deep breath as my mind raced. I had no idea what I was doing or where I would go but I had to do something. As each floor creaked past, I tried to focus on them, to steady my rage and my fear. We had planned for every contingency but we hadn't planned for this. Not once had anyone ever thought, let alone believed or suggested, that we would be raided by the feds. That was why everyone was in such shock. The unthinkable, the impossible had happened. The very wall that was built to protect Scientology and LRH had been breached and we couldn't stop it.
When the elevator came to a halt, I pulled the two doors back and stepped out, allowing it to shut itself, and turned to the right into the lobby. More suits with flaps out the breast pocket and one ear wired to something through the collar. Some staff were being interviewed by agents with clipboards. I have no idea why I did it, but I headed for the front door, rather than slipping back out the patio. I didn't even think back door. It was as if something had taken me over, a rage that demanded that I regain territory that was mine to walk. I was going to go out the front door because it was _my_ front door. The agent looked up at me as I pushed the tall door open and flashed him a half-smile while an obscene remark ran through my head. He said nothing as I walked out to the front steps and my next hell.
The front of the Manor was a circus. I had no idea this was going on. There were TV crews, radio crews, newspaper reporters, still photographers, spectators, staff, students, all being held back by police and FBI agents. Great, Young, let's pick a nice, quiet place to slip out, okay?
I tried to act as nonchalant as I could as I walked down the steps and into the crowd. Fortunately, no one recognized me and the emphasis was on holding the people back, not on keeping them from leaving. I pushed into the crowd at the sidewalk and slipped past a TV crew that was shoving a camera and microphone into an agent's face and asking about the raid. Breaking through the other side, I walked across the narrow street to an sprawling two-story apartment complex that mostly contained Scientologists. Someone there would have water. I hoped. People were standing in front of it, watching the circus across the street. I recognized one of them and he nodded.
"What's going on over there," he asked. "I heard there is an FBI raid."
"Something like that," I said hurriedly. "Can I use your bathroom?"
"Uh...sure," he said, taken aback by my request.
I followed him to his apartment where he showed me the bathroom. Inside, I shut the door and turned on the sink faucet. Water flowed. Good. I pulled the papers out of my pocket and tore them into small pieces and fed them into the toilet bowl. Four flushes later, I was done and stepped out to find him waiting, probably wondering why I had to keep flushing the toilet.
"Thanks, I said," something I ate last night.
He broke into a smile, obviously relieved.
Back outside, I looked across to the Manor. There was no way to breech that front door so I turned to my right and walked around to the back side, where I had come in before but agents were now guarding the area. Rather than take a chance, I doubled back into the underground garage, taking the stairs up into the lobby and then to the elevator. At least I knew the layout. And my luck was holding. No one was watching the elevator. I was beginning to wonder how long my luck would run. At the sixth floor, it held again. There was no one waiting, so I turned and headed towards the t-junction, watching agents at the other end of the hall. It was unreal. None of our people were in the halls and none of these people belonged here and they were moving back and forth without even noticing me. It was a surreal dream.
As I started to turn to my right, my eyes fell on the closed Snow White Programmes door to my left. The agents who had been there earlier had moved away from it. Apparently their presence had been mere coincidence. Attached to the door with two thumb tacks was a piece of white 8 1/2 by 11 paper that said in large letters, "Snow White Programmes" with red impressions of the "Snow White - Top Priority" stamp that we used on all of our dispatches. My guess was that by some dint of blind sheer luck, no one had read it. Now it was hanging out there like a neon sign saying, "RAID ME!"
I sauntered up to the door and pressed my back against it, as if I was merely hanging out, watching the agents. The odd part of my perceived behavior was that there was no one else in the halls but agents. Didn't anyone wonder why I was hanging out? Oh well. As several passed by me, moving between Henning's office and the elevator, I reached up behind me, pushing my hand up between my shoulder blades, trying to find the piece of paper. I couldn't feel it and I didn't want to turn around and draw attention to myself. Glancing casually about and seeing that no one was really watching me, I raised myself on my toes and my fingers found the paper. The tearing sound as it came off the thumb tacks seemed to be a roar. I pulled it down and folded it as I turned and knocked lightly on the door.
"Who is it?" came the muffled voice of Linda.
"Vaughn," I said, my mouth up to the door jam.
I stepped in. Her office was untouched but Linda was visibly rattled. I unfolded the paper and handed it to her.
"This was on your door."
"Oh, my god," she said, as she took it. At least she didn't tell me that the FBI was raiding us.
"They haven't hit you yet?"
She shook her head, her mouth moving but unable to form words.
"Good," I said as I patted her arm. "I have to get back to PR. Keep the door locked and you may get lucky."
As it would turn out, the agents never raided her office. When I found out at the end of the day, it was the best news possible. Linda's files contained every order and every report on every Snow White program in the US, including B1's. How they missed it, we never knew. Besides the sign, her office was right next door to Henning's, although there was no door between them. I hoped that my stunt had helped. What I didn't know then was what the agents were already finding here, across town at B1 and 3,000 miles away in Washington, DC.
She let me out and I went back to Artie's office.
"Where did you go?" he asked as I entered.
"I had to get rid of something."
He shrugged. "Doesn't matter. We've decided what to do."
"What?" I said, almost afraid to ask.
"We're going to hold a press conference in a couple of hours across town, to pull the media away from here. We've got the room reserved. We think you should be the spokesman."
I was about to enter a whole new level of hell.
end of part 2
Copyright © 1997 by Robert Vaughn Young
All Rights Reserved