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Sect framed journalist over 'bomb threats'

by David Beresford, The Guardian, 9 February 1980
Transcribed by Raymond Hill

In the third of a series on the Church of Scientology, David Beresford describes the Campaigns of revenge by the 'dirty tricks' section aimed at the movement's critics

ON MAY 19, 1973, a New York journalist, Paulette Cooper, was indicted before a federal grand jury on charges of sending bomb threats to the Church of Scientology.

In October 1973, in a legal move born of desperation, Ms Cooper agreed to take a truth serum test to prove her innocence. It worked and the state shelved the charges.

Four years later Ms Cooper was telephoned at her Manhattan apartment by the FBI. They had seized documents from the Church of Scientology and had learned that she had been framed by the sect over the bomb threats and had been the victim of a carefully planned operation aimed at driving her insane or having her gaoled.

Ms Cooper qualified as a target of Scientology's dirty tricks operations because had been an uncompromising critic of Scientology since December 1969, when her first article on the followers of L. Ron Hubbard was published by a British women's magazine. The holder of a master's degree in psychology, Ms Cooper had written a book about the sect. The Scandal of Scientology, published in 1971.

The seized Scientology documents show that in the course of their campaign of vilification against Ms Cooper the Scientologists:

1. Framed her on the bomb-threat charges, stealing stationery from her apartment to forge the threatening letter.

2. Sued her 14 times, at one stage themselves importing copies of her book to the UK to take advantage of Britain's notoriously tough libel laws.

3. Put her name on pornographic mailing lists.

4. Stole a legal note from her lawyer to gain an advantage in litigation.

5. Made spurious allegations to the internal revenue service about her father's tax affairs.

6. Sent agents to befriend her date her and spy on her.

7. Wrote graffiti in public places giving her telephone number and address.

The seized Scientology documents have now been placed on public record in Washington.

Over the past two days the Guardian has published aspects of the documentation showing how the sect ran an internal intelligence service, which used dirty tricks techniques, under the control of senior executives at their international headquarters in Britain.

One of the Washington documents is a 10-page memorandum, headed Operation Freakout and dated April 1, 1976. It shows other plans to frame Ms Cooper on bomb-threat charges.

The memo declares, as its main target: "To get PC (Paulette Cooper) incarcerated in a mental institution or gaol, or at least to hit her so hard that she drops her attacks."

The memo sets out four "channels" (lines of attack) to be used against the author, who is Jewish and has a sister living in Israel.

The first line of attack was to make a telephone call to two Arab consulates in New York. The memo says that the caller should sound like Ms Cooper and instructs that her conversation should go as follows:

"I just got back from Israel (pronounced the way it is pronounced in Israel) I've just seen what you fucking bastards do. At least you're not going to kill my sister. I can get away with anything. I'm going to bomb you bastards. Say something in Jewish/swear or mumble something Jewish."

The second line of attack on Ms Cooper under "Operation Freakout" was to be the composition of an anonymous letter to an Arab consulate, saying: "All of you are destroying Israel. You're just like them. My sister loved you bastards. I was there—I saw the wonderful people. Nobody can touch me. I'm going to kill you bastards. I am going to bomb you. Kissinger is a traitor. I'll bomb him to (sic)."

The third line of attack was to create an incident in a laundry near Ms Cooper's flat. A Scientology agent, disguised as Ms Cooper, was to enter the laundry. The memo instructs that she is to act very confused.

"Says I'm PC (Paulette Cooper). Do I have any clothes here? Clerk says no. FSM (field staff member, a covert Scientology agent) demands clerk checks. Clerk comes back. Says no again. FSM screams: "You're crazy, my name is PC, check again! When the clerk says no or whatever he does, FSM goes PTS3 (a Scientology term for acting crazy).

"You're one of them! I'll kill you. You're a dirty Arab, You fucking bastards. I'll bomb you, I'll bomb the Arabs. I'll bomb the president. I'll kill that traitor Kissinger. You're all against me."

The memo adds that at this stage, if a piece of Ms Cooper's clothing is available, it should be dropped on the floor of the laundry and the Scientology agent should leave, escaping in a getaway car around the corner. A call was then to be made to the FBI, reporting what had happened in the laundry.

The Washington documentation shows that over the years regular reports on the progress of the campaigns against Ms Cooper were made by the Scientology intelligence service in America to the sect's headquarters at East Grinstead, Sussex.

Bigamy smear used to dent mayor's career

A SIMILAR dirty tricks campaign was waged by the Scientologists against another critic of the sect, the mayor of the Florida town of Clearwater, Mr Gabriel Cazares.

Two specific operations against Mr Cazares, at the time a Democratic candidate for Congress, were attempts to smear him with false allegations of bigamy and to frame him on a hit-and-run charge.

The bigamy smear, codenamed operation Italian Fog, was detailed in a letter of March 23, 1976, which says: "The purpose of this op is to actually get real documentation into the files of Mexican license bureau or bureaux stating that the mayor got married in Mexico to some Mexican gal 25 years ago who is not his wife, so puts the mayor in a position of bigamy. This can be accomplished either by a bribe or a covert action. Once the docs are planted it is cleverly exposed that the mayor is promiscuous and a bigamist."

The story of Scientology's attempt to frame Mayor Cazares on the hit-and-run charge is detailed in a Government sentencing memorandum submitted to a Washington court which recently sentenced nine leading members of the sect to gaol terms for conspiracy to burgle Government offices.

The memorandum says that in March, 1976, a Scientologist offered to drive the mayor on a sight-seeing trip around Washington, which he was visiting for a mayoral conference. In the course of the tour a fake hit-and-run accident was staged with another Scientologist posing as the victim.

The Scientologist-driver insisted on driving on without reporting the "accident" to the police. Subsequently letters accusing the mayor of having been involved in a hit-and-run accident were sent to citizens in his home town of Clearwater.

In a letter dated March 15, 1976, to Mo Budlong, a senior executive at the sect's international headquarters in East Grinstead, Sussex, a Scientologist involved in the operation described the accident and said: "The man who was hit is perfectly all right. And no one but us knows who he is or that he is all right."

The letter adds: "There is of course much use to which this data can be put on B1 (intelligence) lines and I am in fact reviewing the data and planning our actions to make the most use of it."

The letter concludes: "I should think that the mayor's political days are at an end."

Mr Cazares failed in the subsequent election.

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