The role of the Office of Special Affairs
The Office of Special Affairs (OSA) is frequently demonised by critics of the Church of Scientology, who portray OSA as Scientology's "dirty tricks" agency and as merely a repackaged Guardian Office. But definite facts are thin on the ground. Scientologists themselves do not seem to know very much about its activities. OSA has its own page on the Church of Scientology's Web site, in which it is described as "the division of Church of Scientology International responsible for interfacing with the society at large". Listed responsibilities include "community outreach activities, ... public relations and legal affairs". Its head is Mike Rinder (right), a longtime Scientologist and ally of David Miscavige. In the early 1980s he helped to push through the dismemberment of the GO (coyly described as "a series of projects designed to reorganize the legal and public affairs representation of the Church"). He was rewarded in 1985 with the job of looking after all Church legal and public affairs in the United States, a role extended in 1987 to cover external Church affairs internationally as head of OSA International (OSA Int. for short).
So much for what is in the open. But what, behind the superficially reassuring facade, does OSA actually do? Is it a reconstituted Guardian Office?
Whatever else OSA may be, it is not simply a GO mark II, at least in terms of its position within the Church of Scientology. The internal politics of Scientology in the 1970s were dominated by a clash between the Guardian Office and the Sea Org, two quite distinct organisations with overlapping and often conflicting spheres of influence. L. Ron Hubbard's abandonment of the GO tipped the scales firmly in the favour of the Sea Org, to which the Commodore's Messenger Org belonged. The Sea Org is now the undisputed leader within Scientology; it no longer has any internal rivals and has acted firmly to prevent any of the organisation's corporations from gaining sufficient power to become a threat to its dominance. All OSA staff, for instance, are required to be Sea Org members. Every Scientology org (there are now 279) and many missions has its own Director of Special Affairs reporting to the local Continental Office, in exactly the same way as the network of Assistant Guardians in the GO. But OSA's responsibilities and staff numbers are far smaller than those of the GO, preventing it from gaining the kind of stranglehold enjoyed by its predecessor.
The Office of Special Affairs is necessarily shrouded in some secrecy. It is worth bearing in mind that had it not been for the US Government's decision to release to the public half of the documents seized in 1977, very little would be known about the Guardian Office. There has not really been an equivalent of the GO raids involving OSA, so information is scarce. Nonetheless, some internal OSA documents are in the public domain. They reveal a very different picture to that painted by the reassuring words of the Scientology Web site.
The grand title of President of the Church of Scientology International has since 1988 been held by the "Reverend" Heber C. Jentszch. He may be amongst the senior Scientology leadership but he appears to be fairly junior in relative terms. No matter how grand the titles may be, the real item of significance in telling a high-ranking Scientologist's position in the pecking order is his or her Sea Org rank. David Miscavige holds the humble-sounding title of Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center; his Sea Org rank is Captain (the highest - only Hubbard held Commodore and Admiral, and nobody else is likely to follow suit). "President" Heber Jentszch, meanwhile, is only a Lieutenant in the Sea Org. Although he is nominal head of the Scientology organisation, his Sea Org rank tells a very different story. He is very much at the disposal of OSA and the Sea Org, rather than the other way round. And this is shown by the training programme drawn up for him in 1988 by OSA Int., under the aegis of the Sea Org.
In a 1988 US court case involving former Scientology "Mission Holder" Bent Corydon, the "Full Hat Checksheet" Jentszch was entered into the record and consequently into the public domain. (It comprises pages 000503-000522 of the record.) Completed between April - June 1988, the checksheet is a list of items for Jentszch to study before he could take up the post of "Pres CSI". It was intended to acquaint him with the areas in which he would be working and to train him in the relevant Hubbard-produced "technology."
Unfortunately the original is not of high quality (it seems to have been printed on a dot-matrix printer) and consequently does not scan legibly. The link below, therefore, is to a transcript of the 20-page checksheet.
The checksheet makes interesting reading. Jentszch's job appears to be a combination of a number of functions: management, basic awareness of OSA's role, public relations, internal discipline and legal affairs. Public relations is by far the most important role and is given the most detailed treatment. In actuality, Jentszch appears to be Scientology's chief spokesman and frequently appears at Church PR events, such as the launch last year of an advertising campaign on British TV. (David Miscavige, by contrast, is rarely seen at anything other than internal events.)
But the most interesting items of the checksheet are those relating to OSA. On page 7, for instance, it lists the following:
106. * HCO PL 15 AUG 60 DEPT OF GOVT AFFAIRS [HJ JUN25] 107. * HCO PL 13 MAR 61 DEPARTMENT OF OFFICIAL AFFAIRS [HJ] __ __ 108. * HCO PL 13 MAR 61 DEPARTMENT OF OFFICIAL AFFAIRS Issue II [HJ JUN25] 109. CLAY DEMO: The purpose of the Department of Official Affairs [HJ JUN25] 110. HCO PL 15 FEB 66 ATTACKS ON SCIENTOLOGY [HJ JUN25] 111. HCO PL 18 FEB 66 ATTACKS ON SCIENTOLOGY [HJ JUN25] 112. DEMO: HOW "INVESTIGATING NOISILY THE ATTACKERS" APPLIES TO PRESIDENT CSI [HJ JUN25] 113. HCO PL 25 FEB 66 ATTACKS ON SCIENTOLOGY [HJ JUN25]
This is highly significant. As explained elsewhere (see "Justice Actions" - Infiltration), items 106-109 related to Hubbard's plans to infiltrate and subvert governments. In the Policy Letter listed as item 106, for instance, Hubbard states unambiguously:
"The goal of the Department is to bring the government and hostile philosophies or societies into a state of complete compliance with the goals of Scientology. This is done by high level ability to control and in its absence by low level ability to overwhelm. Introvert such agencies. Control such agencies."
The existence of these policy letters on infiltration tactics has in the past been the cause of some embarrassment to Scientology, which has in the past tended to be rather quite about this aspect of Hubbard's technology. But its presence here indicates that as recently as 1988, it was regarded as "current technology". This and evidence from Greece (cited below) demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that Scientology is interested in and has actually attempted to infiltrate official organisations - an activity which was publicly disowned in the wake of the Operation Snow White scandal, but which evidently was privately endorsed.
Items 110-113 are also significant. Likewise discussed elsewhere (see "Justice Actions" - Investigating Noisily The Attackers), they relate to Scientology's habitual habit of using private detectives and public smears to wear down opponents. These were favourite tactics of the Guardian Office, which took matters to extreme lengths in the cases of Paulette Cooper and Gabe Cazares. The reference here to them indicates strongly that these tactics are still very much in use. There have been numerous reports from journalists and writers of such tactics being used against them, but relatively little documentary evidence - until now - of direct OSA approval of and involvement in "attacking the attackers".
On page 8, we find the following:
120. * HCO PL 16 FEB 69 CONFIDENTIAL TARGETS DEFENSE [HJ JUN25] 121. DEMO: EACH OF THE TARGETS IN THIS PL [HJ JUN25] 122. ESSAY: HOW FULLY ACHIEVING "T.1" WILL AID IN THE ATTAINMENT OF ALL THE OTHER TARGETS [HJ JUN25]
This appears innocuous to the uninformed eye. However, the Policy Letter referenced as item 120 also featured prominently in the literature of the Guardian Office. It sets out the objectives of Scientology's intelligence and PR operations as follows:
The vital targets on which we must invest most of our time are:T1. Depopularizing the enemy to a point of total obliteration.
Hubbard goes on, in the Policy Letter, to catalogue Scientology's enemies:
The names and connections, at this time, of the bitterly opposing enemy are
Item 122 of Heber Jentszch's checksheet, therefore, calls for him to demonstrate his understanding of Scientology's goal of "obliterating" psychiatry, psychology, the media, political figures and bankers.
The checksheet also illustrates the depth, or perhaps fanaticism, of Scientology's hostility to psychiatry. This originated with L. Ron Hubbard's obsessive belief that he faced a conspiracy, or "Tenyaka Memorial", led by the psychiatric profession in league with the CIA , KGB and SMERSH (the secret agency which James Bond battled). Hubbard's death in 1986 has not ended or even diminished Scientology's visceral hostility to psychiatry. It was originally based on relatively rational, if ill-informed, opposition to the cruelty of 1950s psychiatry but has since become totally irrational. Nowhere is this shown more clearly than in item 138, which required Jentszch to demonstrate how "PSYCHS HAVE BEEN ON THE TRACK FOR A LONG TIME AND ARE THE SOLE CAUSE OF THE DECLINE OF THIS UNIVERSE". Quite a charge to make!
But Scientology has never contented itself with simply denouncing psychiatrists. In the mid-1950s, it gave the American psychiatric profession "one last chance" to redeem itself by inviting psychiatrists to sign a "Loyalty Oath"; anyone who failed would be regarded as a Communist and traitor. Not surprisingly, few if any psychiatrists complied with Hubbard's ultimatum. From that point on the gloves were off. Item 136 references a 1966 Executive Directive from Hubbard, Project Psychiatry, which attracted some controversy in the British press when it was leaked to The People newspaper. Hubbard concisely summed up the project's goal:
I find the material available in [sic] individual psychiatrists enormous. We do not care about their conspiracy to rule the world even if it exists. They are no stronger than their individual practitioners and they are weak.
Heber Jentszch's role is primarily a PR one, mostly on behalf of Scientology itself but also (as section K shows) on behalf of Scientology's pressure group (or front group) the Citizens' Commission on Human Rights, which campaigns against psychiatry. A number of PR-related items concern "psych-bashing", for instance:
184. DRILL: MOCK UP A CAMPAIGN THAT COULD BE RUN REGARDING AN EXPOSE OF THE PSYCHIATRIC DRUGGING OF CHILDREN [HJ] __ __ 207. DEMO: HOW A PR CAMPAIGN ON EXPOSING THE PSYCHIATRIC DRUGGING OF SCHOOL CHILDREN IN A COMMUNITY OR COUNTRY WOULD BUILD PRO AREA CONTROL FOR THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY [HJ] __ __ 216. DRILL: WRITE AN ESSAY WHICH DEGRADES PSYCHIATRY [HJ] __ __ 231. DEMO: HOW TO AVOID PUSHING THE ENEMY LINES WHEN EXPOSING PSYCHIATRIC DRUGGING OF SCHOOL CHILDREN, OR THE ELECTRIC SHOCKING OF THE ELDERLY BY PSYCHIATRISTS. [HJ] __ __
Further down the checksheet, a number of items come up under "JUSTICE, INVESTIGATION, LEGAL" which illustrate the continuity between OSA and its predecessors, the Guardian Office and the Hubbard Communications Office. Indeed, one of two Guardian Orders referenced has been amended by hand to turn it into an "OSA WW [World Wide] Order":
272. HCO PL 17 FEB 66 HCO DIV I, DEPT 3, SECT 5 PUBLIC INVESTIGATION SECTION 273. DEMO: THE PURPOSE OF THE PUBLIC INVESTIGATION SECTION OSA WW ORDER\ 274. GO 907 \INTELL ESTIMATES AND PREDICTIONS 275. GO 784 INTELLIGENCE ITS ROLE 276. ESSAY: THE ROLE OF INTELLIGENCE IN RELATIONSHIP TO PR 277. MANUAL: HCO MANUAL OF JUSTICE 278: DEMO: THE FOUR PHASES OF JUSTICE 279. ESSAY: HOW DOES THE HCO MANUAL OF JUSTICE APPLY TO THE HANDLING OF GOVERNMENTS BY PR
The purpose which Jentszch was asked to demonstrate as item 273 was, as Hubbard put it, "TO HELP LRH [Hubbard] INVESTIGATE PUBLIC MATTERS AND INDIVIDUALS WHICH SEEM TO IMPEDE HUMAN LIBERTY SO THAT SUCH MATTERS MAY BE EXPOSED AND TO FURNISH INTELLIGENCE REQUIRED IN GUIDING THE PROGRESS OF SCIENTOLOGY" (see The Hubbard Communications Office). The continued use of the infamous Manual of Justice is also interesting; the "four phases of justice" mentioned are listed by Hubbard as:
A Scientologist might argue, albeit unconvincingly, that the "Justice Actions" listed in Heber Jentzsch's checksheet were merely an outline of the theoretical basis of Scientology's approach to criticism. They do not show specific examples of how critics have been treated and how intelligence gathering is conducted. But events in Greece in 1995 have revealed a detailed picture of how the Office of Special Affairs implements the ideas devised by Hubbard.
On 9 June 1995, Public Prosecutor (equivalent of Attorney-General) Aggelis raided Scientology's sole outpost in Greece - the Greek Center for Applied Philosophy (KEFE) in Athens. A large number of internal documents were seized and subsequently released to the public. 18 months later, on 23 January 1997, the Greek courts ordered the closure of KEFE for having obtained under false pretences its licence to operate. The documents seized in June 1995 helped to show that KEFE had obtained a licence as a non-profit, public-interest organisation but instead made money and put people's mental and physical health at risk.
Amongst the seized documents was a large amount of correspondence between the KEFE Director of Special Affairs and OSA Int. EU (OSA International Europe), based at Scientology's giant org in Copenhagen, Denmark. The documents reveal a remarkable and so far unique insight into the day-to-day activities of the Office of Special Affairs. A variety of KEFE papers can be found through the following links:
The KEFE papers show that OSA is involved in many of the same activities as the GO - including infiltration operations reminiscent of Operation Snow White. Most notably, the papers record a 1995 attempt to obtain confidential information on Scientology's Greek opponents from the files of the Greek Secret Service (KYP).
The American Consulate Handling Program
Some of OSA's work - probably, in fairness, the majority - is relatively inoffensive. One document details an "American Consulate Handling Program" drawn up on 17 August 1992. Following the refusal of the US Consulate in Athens to issue a Greek Scientologist with a US entry visa, the Immigration Officer of OSA Int. (based in Los Angeles) ordered the Director of Special Affairs Greece to "safe point the American Consulate in Athens so that they take the stops off the lines and are willing to give our staff and public visas". A "safe point" is, as the context implies, one which does not cause Scientology any problems and preferably "a point which one is controlling". This was to be accomplished though "PRO Area Control", a technique designed to make others "do what we want" (see Justice Actions: PRO Area Control for a detailed description of this).
The American Consulate Handling Program appears to have been a classic PR exercise without the reprehensible trappings of an unscrupulous intelligence agency. The DSA Greece was ordered to give "briefing materials" to the US Consulate
Meetings with the Consul were to be arranged and "on any false data or enemy lines that come up, DA [Dead Agent, i.e. deny] standardly". His concerns were to be determined and, once that had been done, a "handling" was to be worked out and implemented. At the same time, OSA staff in Washington, DC were to visit the Athens desk of the US State Department and "DA anything negative on Scientology that comes up and fill the vacuum on Scientology."
On the face of it, this is relatively inoffensive. If one disregards the slightly sinister tone, it is not that dissimilar to the action that would be taken by a large multinational company if its employees had similar problems with local officialdom. But one has to wonder what the "handling program" would have entailed for the US Consul had he continued to refuse visas for Greek Scientologists; a long line of individuals, from journalists to judges to government ministers could testify to the severity of the "handling" inflicted on them.
The handling of Father Anthony
One such individual was the late Father Antonios Alevizopoulos, a Greek Orthodox priest who was a long-time opponent of cults. The influence of the Church in Greece is far greater than in many western European states; in fact, other religions are prohibited from proselytizing whilst cults are regarded as "heresies". With the full support of the Orthodox hierarchy and the secular authorities, Father Anthony has for many years campaigned against cults or "parareligions". In May 1993 he released a list of 127 such bodies, stating that they were incompatible with Orthodoxy; the Holy Synodus of the Greek Orthodox Church endorsed the list in February 1994.
With this background, it is not at all surprising that Father Antonios and the Orthodox Church should come up against Scientology. In May 1995, he made a number of public criticisms of Scientology on TV, calling for investigations into the activities of KEFE. OSA EU (in Denmark) instructed the DSA Greece to institute a "ruthless" campaign against the priest, to "accumulate the ammunition with which to blow this SP out of our path." The Orthodox Church itself, including the Archbishop of Greece, was labelled as an "enemy".
The DSA attempted to "Dead Agent" (discredit) Father Anthony by linking the Greek Orthodox Church with supposed neo-Nazi activities in Germany - a favourite tactic for Scientology, which likes to compare itself to the Jews under Hitler at every possible opportunity (a tactic, incidentally, which the German Jewish community has denounced as "inaccurate" and "distasteful").
The 558 Program
However, such efforts failed to break the authorities' resolve to tackle Scientology. The June 1995 raid on KEFE was a huge blow to Greek Scientology. But as spokesmen have said, the Church "is not a turn-the-other-cheek religion," so a plan was established to "handle" the serious threat posed to KEFE's very existence. On 28 August 1995, executives at OSA's Continental Office in Copenhagen, Denmark drew up the "558 Program" to get "Scientology activities safeguarded and expanding in Greece without distractions." Their plan of action was somewhat sinister and remarkably reminiscent of the worst days of the Guardian Office. See the following link for the actual document and a page-by-page analysis: