Scientologists Plotted To Frame A Critic as a Criminal, Files Show
By Gregory Gordon - United Press InternationalNovember 24, 1979
WASHINGTON -- The Church of Scientology plotted to silence a New York writer critical of the organization by framing her to become the FBl's prime suspect in a series of bomb threats, According to documents released yesterday.
Paulette Cooper, 37, said the scientologists' plot was part of a campaign of harassment that led to her being indicted on criminal charges. She said she became deeply depressed and was forced to seek psychiatric help.
Cooper said the church began harassing her in 1969, when it learned she was working on a book about it. Shortly after "The Scandal of Scientology" was published in 1971, she was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges she sent a bomb threat to church offices.
The charges were dropped in 1975, but the harassment continued, she told a news conference yesterday. And she finally volunteered to take sodium pentathol - truth serum - to prove to prosecutors she was innocent of the bomb threats.
It was yesterday, when US district judge Charles Richey made public thousands of documents the FBI seized in 1971 raids, that Cooper got proof the church had tried to smear her reputation.
A document dated April 1, 1976, disclosed the church had plotted to frame Cooper as a perpetrator of bomb threats.
The document described a proposed "Operation Freakout," in which a scientologist with a voice similar to Cooper's would phone an Arab consulate in New York City, screaming obscenities and threatening, "I am going to bomb you."
The plan also called for sending a written bomb threat to an Arab embassy after scheming to get Cooper's fingerprints on notepaper to be used for the threat. The scientologists also plotted to send a member masquerading as Cooper to a laundromat to make an angry bomb threat, then tip off the FBI, a document showed. The goal of the plan, it indicated, was "to get P.C. (Paulette Cooper) incarcerated in a mental institution or jail, or at least to hit her so hard that she drops her attacks.''
The files were among cartons of church files seized by the FBI that led to the indictment of 11 church members. Richey recently found nine members guilty of conspiring to infiltrate US agencies and steal government documents.
This week an appeals court rejected church claims that the FBI raids were too broad and approved the public release of the documents, which detail scores of covert scientology attacks on perceived enemies. The documents disclose that British-based scientologists:
Cooper, who has filed two lawsuits against the church seeking a total of $35 million in damages, said there "is a constant confirmation" in the documents that her allegations are accurate. She said she had spent $42,000 on legal fees defending herself against 14 lawsuits filed by the church.
Cooper said there was evidence the church assigned members "to date me to try to get information about me." She said four "horrible, anonymous smear letters were sent about me, including to the tenants in my apartment building." One letter alleged she had a venereal disease.
She said two church members were convicted for possessing burglary tools used in a break-in of her lawyer's office in Toronto and "papers from my doctor's office and my lawyer's office disappeared and were mailed to me and other people anonymously for years."
Responding to the disclosures about Cooper, church spokesman Dennis McKenna said: "This situation is not in perspective until one examines the extent to which Miss Cooper was covertly working with the FBI and other federal agencies" to investigate the church.
Mr. Kenna said Cooper was involved with federal agencies in "actions against the church" similar to those the FBI conducted on private individuals in the J. Edgar Hoover era.
Another scientology official said the church "does not condone" the actions against Cooper.