Welcome to The H-Files, an archive of documents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation relating to L. Ron Hubbard and the Dianetics and Scientology movements which he founded. There are 638 documents ranging from 1940 to 1983.
Commies and Conspiracies
Throughout his 36-year career as founder and "Source" of Dianetics and Scientology, Hubbard was convinced that he faced sinister conspiracies directed against himself and his organisation. His lover in 1950-51, Barbara Klowdan, later recalled:
He was having a lot of political and organisational problems with people grabbing for power. He didn't trust people and there were a lot of problems with people in the east, he mentioned names like Art Ceppos [publisher of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health]. He felt people were trying to do him in all the time and get power ... It took me some time to realise he was disturbed. He was highly paranoid and would be rushing along the street with me and I would say, "Why are you walking so fast?" He'd look over his shoulder and say, "Don't you know what it's like to be a target?" At all times he thought the American Psychological Association and the AMA and CIA had hit men after him. He thought everyone was after him. 1At first, he was convinced that the organisational and financial problems which beset the Dianetic Foundations were the result of Soviet Communist infiltration; the FBI's files from the first half of the 1950s are full of letters from him denouncing his colleagues, and even his wife Sara, as "vermin Communists or ex-Communists". This occurring at the height of the McCarthy "reds under the bed" scare, an agent was despatched on 7 March 1951 to interview Hubbard, who claimed that he had been approached by Russian agents interested in Dianetics:
Hubbard stated that he strongly feels that Dianetics can be used to combat Communism. However, he declined to elaborate on how this might be done. He stated that the Soviets apparently realized the value of Dianetics because as early as 1938 an official of Amtorg, while at The Explorers Club in New York, contacted him to suggest that he go to Russia and develop Dianetics there. 2By 1953, the "science" of Dianetics had been superceded by the new "religion" of Scientology. Hubbard continued to believe - and did so to his death in 1986 - that he faced a highly organised worldwide conspiracy backed by the psychiatric profession and, for some reason, the Bank of England. The focus of his paranoia, however, shifted markedly. Throughout the 1950s and into the early 1960s he essentially trusted the state authorities in the US and elsewhere. He continued to write to the FBI, though they had long since categorised him as a "vexatious correspondent" and did not bother replying; he even wrote to President John F. Kennedy offering him the use of Scientology to train astronauts.
This positive view of the state changed in the mid-1960s, when the US, British and local Australian governments began to take restrictive action against Scientology, prompted by an upsurge in public alarm at what were seen as "dangerous cults". Hubbard and his organisation abruptly stopped writing to the FBI. The turning point was Hubbard's disastrous attempt in 1972 to win influence in Morocco where, as part of a four-pronged plan to take over control in Morocco, Scientology training was given to Moroccan secret police agents, showing them how to use the E-meter to detect political subversives. One of his erstwhile followers "blew" and went back home to the US, where he contacted the CIA with information about Hubbard's activities. The information was passed back to the Moroccan authorities through Interpol; the faction of the secret police which Hubbard had been cultivating realised their danger and launched an unsuccessful coup against King Hassan. On 3 December 1972, Hubbard and every Scientologist in Morocco fled on the Lisbon-bound ferry, shredding every piece of paper which could not be taken with them. Had Hubbard been caught by the Moroccan authorities, it is more than likely that he would have been executed for high treason. 3
The gloves were now off. A series of secret bulletins, orders and notes were issued to his private intelligence agency, the Guardian's Office (GO) - many were reissued to the GO's successor, the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), in 1987 and 1988 - firmly identifying the state as the enemy. All governments were defined as "insane", the government official being "a murderer, a non-producer, a thing unable to run engrams." 4 During this period, states one OSA Network Order, "the strategy being operated on was to investigate and handle the spreading of false reports, harassment and attempted genocide by government and police organizations against Scientology. These investigations led to the Rockefellers and disclosed their connections with intelligence, media, mental health, drug firms and banks, as well as their increasing activities to bring about a psych controlled police state type of society." 5
To expose the "insane being and intention" which Hubbard suspected was behind the hostility of governments towards Scientology, in the aftermath of the Moroccan debacle he ordered the establishment of a systematic espionage system directed against governments worldwide. By 1977, Scientology's secret service, the Guardian's Office, had swollen to over 1,100 staff running agents in over a dozen countries and penetrating scores of government and military agencies. The FBI itself was one of the targets listed by Hubbard in "Project Hunter," his battle plan against the US Government written on 20 April 1973. 6
But the Guardian's Office overreached itself. In 1976, the FBI became aware of Scientology's massive international campaign of espionage; on 7 July 1977, the largest raid in the Bureau's history saw over 100 agents simultaneously raiding Scientology's headquarters in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Eleven Scientologists, including Hubbard's wife Mary Sue, were convicted of conspiracy in 1979 and sentenced to lengthy jail sentences. Hubbard himself was cited as an "unindicted co-conspirator" and went into hiding, from which he did not emerge until his death in 1986.
The FBI's view of Scientology
Scientology's relationship with the FBI are relatively well-known, as they have been documented extensively from documents written by Hubbard and FBI papers released through the Freedom of Information Act. 7 However, the FBI's view of Scientology has been relatively little documented; this is something which The H-Files is intended to correct.
The extreme and repetitive nature of Hubbard's denunciations of his colleagues soon convinced the FBI that Hubbard was essentially a crank. The agent who interviewed him in March 1951 described Hubbard in a subsequent report as "a mental case", and next to another Hubbard letter written to the Bureau on 11 July 1955 is the annotation "appears mental". From that point on, the FBI did not bother replying to his letters "because of their rambling, meaningless nature and lack of any pertinence to Bureau interests." 8 This did not deter Hubbard from continuing to write to the Bureau. Only when he became convinced that the US Government was in fact his enemy did he desist.
The FBI did not regard Hubbard merely as a harmless crank, though, as he was far from the only one writing to them about Scientology and Dianetics. The Bureau received many letters from members of the public and even, on one occasion, from a Senator who coincidentally was on the same committee as an old friend of Hubbard's family, Warren G. Magnuson. Some of the letters were merely curious about Hubbard's organisation; others, reflecting the anti-Communist fervour of the time, denounced Dianetics as a Communist front group; still others were quite obviously malicious, such as the anonymous letter of 4 May 1951 which asked the FBI to "Investigate No 211 West Douglas, under the "Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation", they are conducting a vicious sexual racket. There are four women and a larger number of men. If they have moved go after them. They are bad, I know because I am one of the victims..."
The Bureau evidently regarded Dianetics and its successor Scientology as somewhat fishy and kept the organisation under observation for many years before the Snow White espionage operations began. The accusation that Hubbard was "hopelessly insane," made by his wife during their acrimonious divorce in 1951, was a staple feature of most internal FBI reporting. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the FBI file on Hubbard and Scientology grew large indeed, the documents on this site representing only a small proportion of the total.
When Scientology took to the high seas in the late 1960s and 1970s following the revocation of its tax exemption in the US and the imposition of immigration restrictions in the UK, government intelligence agencies became involved in surveillance of the organisation. The movements of Hubbard's motley fleet were monitored by the CIA and almost certainly by Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), who on occasion gave local governments reports based largely on the FBI's voluminous but error-ridden file on Scientology. Behind the scenes, the FBI was also liaising with Interpol and the US Internal Revenue Service, both of which were involved in disputes with Scientology.
ConclusionCuriously, L. Ron Hubbard did not know of the extent of the FBI's interest in his activities until it was disclosed in the late 1970s through FOIA. He always was convinced that he was under surveillance by the US and foreign security services and alluded in secret Guardian's Office memos to the CIA, MI6 and the German Secret Service spying on Scientology. On this occasion, Hubbard's rampant paranoia was justified - perhaps demonstrating the truth of the saying about a broken clock being right twice a day. The FBI, for its part, did itself no favours by relying on unproven and occasionally completely inaccurate information on Scientology and Hubbard. But in the final analysis, although the FBI's behaviour does lend some small credence to Scientology's claims of victimisation by the authorities, the campaigns of espionage against the US and overseas governments in the 1970s and against the French and Greek governments in the early 1990s give the lie to Scientology's claims that it is a victim rather than an aggressor.
2. US Govt memo 62-116151-70, 7 Mar 1952
3. Interview with former Sea Org member, 13 Sept 1997
4. OSA Network Order 17, "The Genus of Insane Governments", 17 February 1988
5. OSA Network Order 32, "Strategic Info", 5 April 1988
6. GO 732 WW, "Snow White Program", 20 April 1973
7. See, amongst other sources: Garrison, The Hidden Story of Scientology (1974), Playing Dirty (1980); Miller, Bare-Faced Messiah (1980); Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky (1992); Statement of Evidence and other documents released in United States vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, 1979.
8. FBI memo, 27 February 1957