The Guardian Office (more formally, the Office of the Guardian) represented a systematic effort to centralise the activities previously undertaken by separate HCO Departments. Hubbard defined its mission concisely:
"TO HELP LRH [Hubbard] ENFORCE AND ISSUE POLICY, TO SAFEGUARD SCIENTOLOGY ORGS, SCIENTOLOGISTS AND SCIENTOLOGY AND TO ENGAGE IN LONG TERM PROMOTION."
This task was subdivided by Hubbard into five areas of activity:
The Guardian had a limited degree of responsibility for policy-making, though Hubbard made clear that he would continue to be the only legitimate source of policy - the Guardian's powers derived entirely, and solely, from his own.
The GO was intended to be a sort of Scientological SWAT team, charging into action whenever Scientology was in danger after blunders by staff members. Hubbard gave this the curious title of "LRH Heavy Hussars Hat"; the Hussars, he explained, had been a cavalry force held in reserve until a battle line was dangerously strained, whereupon they would go in to straighten it out.
This duty was, in effect, the internal security function of the GO. It maintained files on any staff member accused of a violation of Scientology's elaborate system of Ethics and encouraged Scientologists to spy on and report on each other, rather like the network of informants maintained in East Germany by the Stasi. This system of "Knowledge Reports" continues in use to this day.
If a Scientology org ever found itself in a "condition of Affluence" - a rare event, as it required an explosive growth in the org's statistics - the GO would be called in to enquire into the circumstances responsible. A report would be produced with, it was hoped, the findings being applicable in other orgs, so bringing them into Affluence as well.
A fairly self-explanatory duty. The GO provided central coordination of Scientology publicity, primarily though magazines and campaigns aimed both at existing members and at the raw public.
Perhaps the most important of the GO's activities, and certainly the most secretive. The intelligence-gathering duties of the GO were intended to give early warning of trouble, or as Hubbard put it, "which way cats are going to jump". This was subdivided into two sections, the Planetary Intelligence Unit and the Organizational Intelligence Unit. The first was responsible for gathering intelligence from outside Scientology, initially by monitoring the media but, before long, by active espionage. The second was an internal security unit responsible for monitoring letters from Scientologists to Hubbard written under Standing Order #1 (one could always write to Hubbard if something was wrong; unfortunately, this was used to monitor and ultimately to discipline dissent amongst the ranks). The OIU also monitored complaints from the public about Scientology, on the sound grounds that if they reached a critical mass Scientology could be in trouble.
The headquarters of the Guardian Office were at Saint Hill Manor in England. This was GO World Wide, or GOWW. Seven "Continental Offices" were created - UK (which Hubbard, strangely, regarded as a separate continent), East US, West US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. ("Latam" - Latin America - has since been added to this list.) A Deputy Guardian ran each Continental Office; each in turn had a number of deputies, or Assistant Guardians, in every Scientology org. GO staff usually did not belong to the Sea Org, which at the time was cruising around the Mediterranean in a motley fleet captained by Hubbard himself. A strong rivalry between the two powerful organisations was created as a result; the cartoon on the right, which appeared in an internal GO publication, represented the ideal but also hints at the reality. Which organisation would gain control over the ordinary Scientologist?
The Guardian Office comprised six bureaux, each with their own area of responsibility and shrouded by the obsessive secrecy of the organisation. At GOWW there was a Deputy Guardian dealing with each of these functions. When the GO was dissolved in 1983, some of the bureaux - Information, Legal and Press - were transferred wholesale to the newly-created Office of Special Affairs (OSA) and others were spun off as separate bodies. Finance, notably, became the International Finance Police under the leadership of the sinisterly-titled International Finance Dictator. Many of the functions described below thus continue, more or less unchanged, within the successor departments of OSA.
The investigatory arm. This branch was perhaps the most prestigious within the GO, running agents and intelligence gathering programs. The GO's internal newspaper The Winner described it as follows:
"The Information Bureau serves as an investigatory arm and provides factual information to the Legal Bureau for use in ongoing and planned litigation.
The functions of "B1" were, of course, rather broader than that, as illustrated by the contents of the Confidential Intelligence Course given to those who held the "Information Full Hat" (post of B1 officer). Most Scientologists knew little or nothing about the activities of the GO until their exposure in the wake of the Snow White scandal. But the GO know plenty about them; comprehensive files were maintained on all Scientologists, culled from the supposedly confidential records of confessional sessions. If a Scientologist left the organisation, he was more than likely to find lurid details from his confidential file being used to blacken his reputation.
Information was gathered through the Information Bureau's Collections Department, which had two sections: Overt and Covert Data Collection. The former dealt chiefly with investigating individuals and organisations seen as hostile to Scientology, usually though "noisy investigation" techniques and the use of private detectives. The latter was a classic espionage department - indeed, its members were required to read Christopher Felix's "The Spy and his Masters" as a primer for espionage techniques. B1 also housed an Operations Department, responsible for administering chastisement to Scientology's foes. Its methods were routinely below the belt. One despatch of 6 December 1968, which subsequently found its way onto the required reading list of the GO's Intelligence Course, speaks for itself:
"DEC. 6, 1968Despite his later, desperate attempts to dissociate himself from the activities of the Information Bureau, there is absolutely no doubt that L. Ron Hubbard was intimately associated with it. He regularly addressed the investigative teams to appraise them of his latest thoughts on the "Tenyaka Memorial" (the name which he gave to the supposed anti-Scientology conspiracy) and maintained daily, and even hourly, contact with B1 through Scientology's telex network.
The internal management branch. Its primary tasks were to provide training in the specialist areas addressed by GO personnel - public relations, financial management etc. - though training in pure intelligence duties was provided separately by B1, which was so self-contained that its activities were known only to the top executives of the other GO bureaux. Much of what was later marketed as "management technology" and "PR technology" was in fact devised by Hubbard as training material for GO staff.
The branch responsible for contacts with the media, governments, community groups and other leading figures in society such as celebrities. Like any other organisation's PR office, B3 issued numerous press releases which were usually ignored by the mainstream media (a problem for any PR agency). One of its most important responsibilities was the publication of Scientology newspapers, of which Freedom is the most notable (or perhaps infamous). This organ - a glossy magazine in the United States, a newspaper in Europe - was founded in Britain in 1968 to campaign against the then ban on foreign Scientologists entering the country. Contemporary newspaper reports speak of Scientologists picketing London's main railway stations, handing out thousands of copies of Freedom to commuters - who then promptly discarded them, leaving British Rail with mountains of paper to clear away. Freedom is still going strong; more on it later.
The function of B3 was not simply to generate press about Scientology but to suppress it. Hence B3 agents would daily scrutinise the morning's newspapers for any unfavourable mention of Scientology; if such was spotted, it would usually be passed on to B4 (Legal) to see if it was worth suing for. In a similar vein, it had a very important role in restricting the flow of information to Scientologists. To this day, they are discouraged from reading the newspapers, allegedly because the constant flow of bad information (wars, famines, disasters etc.) merely serves to "enturbulate" the sensitive Scientologist.
This lack is more than made up for by an endless flow of Scientology-produced publications. In addition to the aforementioned Freedom, internal Scientology journals of past and present have included such titles as Ability, Advance, Affinity, Certainty, Expand, Source, Understanding and the longest-running of all, The Auditor. Such publications have one absolutely unvarying feature: although they are professionally produced, they are absolutely uncritical of Scientology, even to the extent of not reporting anything bad affecting Scientology (such as lost court cases or governments closing orgs down). Scientologists will only hear of such events if they listen to the mainstream media, which many will not. Therefore, to the Scientologist, the picture is an endlessly rosy one of endless expansion (proclaimed in numerous oleaginous "Success Stories") marred only by a few impotent rumblings from Suppressives.
B3's talent at creating this fantasy world must have been sorely stretched, however, when the GO leadership went on trial in 1979-81 over Operation Snow White. The ingenuous line devised was that the trial of "the GO Nine" was part of a vindictive US government campaign against Scientology; the charge, Scientologists were told, was "theft of xerox paper"! In fact, the defendants had been indicted by a Federal grand jury with a far graver battery of offences - conspiring to steal government documents, theft of government documents, burglarizing government offices, intercepting government communications, harbouring a fugitive, making false declarations before a grand jury and conspiring to obstruct justice. Heading the list of those indicted was Mary Sue Hubbard. She faced a maximum penalty, if convicted, of 175 years in prison and a fine of $40,000. None of this was relayed back to Scientologists by their PR bureau; and this was at the same time as the GO's internal newsletter, The Winner, proclaimed: "PR in Scientology is built upon the communication formula and on the high road of truth." Neither was much in evidence.
The branch, as one might expect, responsible for the Church of Scientology's legal affairs - notably suing critics of Scientology, their publishers, various governments and international organisations. B4 must have been a hive of activity. In one day in 1968, thirty-eight suits were dropped by the Church in England; in 1983, shortly before the GO was disbanded, it admitted that it had issued so many writs for libel that it had lost track of how many were still outstanding. The total figure was certainly in the hundreds, though very few succeeded. Amongst those sued were the FBI, the IRS, the Justice Department, Interpol, the British Government, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan [London] Police and even Henry Kissinger (for $800 million). Its mission statement was provided, as always, by Hubbard:
"The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win.
B5 provided Scientology's financial auditors, scrutinising the accuracy and legality of local orgs' financial records. Each org was supposed to have an Assistant Guardian for Finance, who would monitor all payments to and from the org. Embezzlement was (then as now) a capital offence for Scientologists - though a cynic might add that, given the huge amounts siphoned off by Hubbard himself, a different rule evidently prevailed for the leadership.
One of the most significant of the GO's bureaux, B6 took over the functions performed by the short-lived Special Zone Departments in coordinating Scientology's efforts to infiltrate broader society. By the 1970s, these efforts had advanced from the earlier, rather piecemeal efforts of individual Scientologists to bring their companies or organisations into "compliance". A number of groups had been created to promote various aspects of L. Ron Hubbard's "technology", such as Narconon (drug rehabilitation), Criminon (criminal rehabilitation), Applied Scholastics (education) and World Institute of Scientology Enterprises, or WISE (management consultancy). All of these are still in existence.
Other groups advanced the Scientology agenda more subtly: the have Citizen's Commission on Human Rights, or CCHR, continues to campaign against psychiatry; the IRS Whistle-Blowers' Coalition campaigned against the IRS before Scientology was given tax exemption in 1993; Gerus campaigned against psychiatric treatment being given to elderly dementia victims. There have been literally hundreds of other "related groups" (or front groups, as some critics would have it).
The GO bore remarkable similarities in its development to intelligence agencies in totalitarian countries - notably in the former Communist bloc (ironic indeed, considering Hubbard's hatred of Communism). At its outset the GO consisted of a small number of staff operating from a central headquarters at Saint Hill Manor in Sussex, England. By the time of its demise, it had over 1,100 full-time members and controlled numerous voluntary "Field Staff Members" - agents - across the world. Every local org (in May 1977 there were 16 in the US and 33 overseas) had several "Assistant Guardians" to keep the rest in line. By the late 1970s, the GO virtually ran the Church of Scientology.
In short, much like the KGB or the East German Stasi, the GO had grown from being an arm of the wider organisation to being a state within a state. Just as the Stasi used up to a third of the East German population as informers, so too did the GO divert the loyalties of thousands of Scientologists, using them to spy on their peers and on the organisation's perceived foes. GO-run Field Staff Members were the people who stole thousands of documents from the US Government and framed New York journalist Paulette Cooper in a bomb plot (see the plan of action for the FSMs involved in the latter). With the close involvement of L. Ron Hubbard himself in its activities, the GO was the power within the Church of Scientology. It did not get quite as far as the KGB, which promoted its chairman Yuri Andropov to the top job, General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, in 1984. All the same, the burgeoning power of the GO was to be a crucial factor in its eventual downfall.
The period 1968-76 saw the high-water mark of the GO's activities. As L. Ron Hubbard's paranoia about the supposed psychiatric conspiracy against him increased, so the GO grew in size and scope. Between 1968-70, it mounted a major operation to attack and ultimately take over the National Association of Mental Health (NAMH), the UK's main psychiatric organisation. The plan was simple: as membership of the NAMH was open to the public, the GO swamped it with membership applications shortly before elections were due to the NAMH's Council of Management. Five days before the elections, the new Scientologist members nominated eight of their number for the Council, amongst them Deputy Guardian David Gaiman (still a senior Scientologist). Three days later the NAMH decided to expel 302 of the infiltrators. The GO responded with a lawsuit, which was duly lost. The affair was well documented in C. H. Rolph's 1973 book, Believe What You Like.
L. Ron Hubbard did not mind unduly, however, as he felt that the objectives had been achieved. In a "write-up" of 12 November 1969, PRO [Public Relations Officer] Area Control, he complimented Gaiman on "your splendid NAMH "election" caper" which, he felt, had exposed a link between the NAMH, the CIA, MI6 and the KGB. Efforts to establish conclusively this link were to continue. In the meantime, the Guardian Office moved on to conduct literally scores of other operations against "Suppressives", particularly in the Clearwater, Florida area where Scientology was attempting to establish a "Land Base". Amongst the GO's more notable targets were the then Mayor of Clearwater, Gabriel Cazares, and the New York journalist Paulette Cooper.
A comprehensive list of GO operations would be long indeed. The following, however, were amongst the most significant:
The power of the GO was not directly affected by the devastating FBI raids of 7 July 1977, in which no less than 48,149 documents had been seized from the GO headquarters in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. But as the leadership waited for the inevitable indictments to be issued, its power base was about to be destroyed. L. Ron Hubbard, from whom all of the GO's authority issued, had lost confidence in it and above all in his wife, Mary Sue, whom he constantly complained had got him into trouble. His "Personal Communicator" (spokesman) Ken Urquhart later recalled:
"Hubbard abandoned her, and made it quite clear within the org that he had abandoned her. It's the one thing I find hard to forgive - that he was prepared to allow his wife to go to jail for crimes he was equally guilty of. After the FBI raid I was put to work making up reports to show that he did not know what was going on. In other words, I was to cover his ass. He was privy to almost all of it and was as guilty as Mary Sue."
Ron and Mary Sue held a stormy meeting in his hideaway at La Quinta, California on the night of 2 January 1978. As they were the only two present, only Mary Sue now knows what was said; but the results could not have been more stark. After being married for over 25 years, Ron had effectively dismissed her from his presence. They met on only a handful of occasions thereafter, their last meeting taking place in mid-1979; after that, they never met again. On 26 October 1979, Mary Sue was fined $10,000 dollars and imprisoned for five years (though she did not actually go to prison until she had exhausted her appeals in 1981). A few months later, Ron went into hiding with only a couple of dedicated followers; he never emerged again, dying in January 1986.
In the meantime, he effectively abandoned the GO. He had long claimed that mistakes are caused solely by the presence of "Suppressive Persons" (SPs) in an org: get rid of the suppressive and no more mistakes will occur. The downfall of the GO leadership was (and remains) by far the biggest disaster in Scientology's 40-year history. Therefore the obvious conclusion was that there must have been multiple SPs at work. Hubbard issued an "Advice" (a limited-distribution directive) in 1979 to the effect that those who had fallen under the influence of an SP, the SP's "connections", must also be rooted out. It was clear - at least, if one followed Hubbard's bizarrely warped logic - that the GO was riddled with Suppressives and that the entire agency had fallen under the sway of SPs. The only solution would be to eliminate the GO entirely.
This was easier said than done. Although it no longer enjoyed Hubbard's confidence, the stranglehold of the GO persisted over the Scientology organisation. With over 1,100 full-time staff members and thousands more volunteers, it remained a powerful force. Hubbard's chosen weapon against the GO was absurdly puny by comparison. He had placed his faith in his teenage "messengers" - the children of Sea Org Scientologists, who devoted their lives to serving his every need: dressing him, massaging him, holding his ashtray, making sure that he always had a chair to hand, and so on. They were a sort of latter-day Praetorian Guard, protecting and serving their Emperor but (like their Roman forebears) eventually becoming the most powerful element in the hierarchy of command, as they controlled all access and communications to Hubbard. In 1978, Hubbard had formalised this relationship by creating the Commodore's Messenger Organisation International, or CMO Int., to act as Scientology's senior management body. Its membership was absurdly young; the head of CMO Int. was one David Miscavige, formerly a cameraman in Hubbard's Cine Org, who was aged just 18. And he was one of the more senior members; in the United Kingdom, some of the most senior CMO executives in the early 1980s were aged 14 and under.
The CMO's first task in defeating the GO was to remove the Controller of the GO, Mary Sue Hubbard. In May 1981, she was coming to the end of her appeals process and faced the imminent prospect of five years in jail. David Miscavige, now 21, met with her, to persuade her to stand down. As a convicted felon, she was an embarrassment and source of potential legal problems to the Church and to her husband. From all accounts, the meeting was stormy; but she eventually agreed to stand down for the sake of the Church.
That July, Miscavige and other messengers turned up in Los Angeles at the GO's US headquarters. All GO staff were ordered to join the Sea Org, and a Criminal Handling Unit was established to purge the ranks of the GO. When Mary Sue heard the news, she reappointed herself Controller of the Guardian Office and physically ejected the CMO team. They, in turn, seized control of the GO's remaining files in Los Angeles and mounted a round-the-clock guard to prevent the GO accessing the compromising materials held within. A tense stand-off ensued, which was only resolved when the CMO mysteriously managed to produce an undated directive from Hubbard approving their actions - which, in all honesty, he certainly did.
In August, a CMO "Observation Mission" was despatched to GO World Wide HQ at Saint Hill Manor in England. On 5 August 1981, a "Committee of Evidence" was convened to try leading members of the GO in what turned out to be a show trial. All the defendants were found guilty and shipped out to Gilman Hot Springs in California for a "rehabilitation programme". Messengers called them "the crims," for criminals. These middle-aged Church executives were made to dig ditches, and serve as waiters for the young rulers. They were awakened in the middle of the night to be subjected to a new type of "Confessional." The privacy of the auditing session was abandoned, along with the polite manner of the auditor. A group of Messengers would fire questions and accusations at the unfortunate recipient. Answers were belittled and shouted down in unison by the Messengers. The GO official would be threatened with eternal expulsion from Scientology - a potent threat. The questions were also new. The CMO was convinced that the GO had been infiltrated by "enemy" agencies, so the GO staff were asked, "Who's paying you?" over and over again, and accused of working for the FBI, the IRS, the AMA or the CIA. This brutal interrogation technique came to be known as "gang sec-checking." It was, of course, in total violation of the publicized tenets of Scientology, but was no less effective for that; most of the victims eventually left Gilman willing to do the bidding of their new masters. The Guardian Office was well and truly dead.
An interesting view from the winning side was presented to Scientologists on 8 October 1993, in a speech by David Miscavige to the International Association of Scientologists' annual convention:
"The IRS got some unexpected help in the form of an infiltrated Guardian's Office. That was the old legal unit of the Church that went corrupt. We weren't to discover why for many years to come. But it is safe to say their attention wasn't fully on the task at hand of defending the Church, as they had too many personal problems to do so ... it was clear that the office responsible for protecting and defending Scientology was going to lose. What was more clear is that they had even given the IRS the ammunition they had wanted for so long, but were incapable of obtaining. Combine all of this with the fact that LRH had gone completely off management lines in the beginning of the 1980s so that he could dedicate himself to completing the rest of his researches - and you have a volatile situation.
But it was never likely that Scientology's need for an intelligence service would end with the demise of the Guardian Office. Paranoia was too deeply ingrained in the organisation's collective psyche, and the new leadership felt itself besieged from within (thousands of Scientologists were purged, membership of the movement dropping by as much as 50%) and from without (primarily from the United States Inland Revenue Service). Consequently, in 1983, the shattered remnants of the GO were reconstituted into a new body: the Office of Special Affairs.