Scientologists Plotted Leak Campaign

By Kenneth Bredemeier, Washington Post Staff Writer

November 24, 1979 - Saturday, Final Edition

Officials of the Church of Scientology routinely plotted in recent years to leak to newspapers information aimed at embarrassing government agencies and former President Nixon and misleading the public about the church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, according to internal church documents released here yesterday.

Using such code names as Operation Chaos Leak and Operation Bulldozer Leak, church officials sought to defame and confuse the church's critics or anyone who might be investigating the church and its activities, the documents show.

The thousands of pages released yesterday by the U.S. Court of Appeals are part of the massive collection of evidence that the federal government seized in raids 2 1/2 years ago here and in Los Angeles at church offices.

Nine church officials have been found guilty of various roles in a massive criminal conspiracy to plant church spies in government agencies and break into federal offices. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 6.

The documents released yesterday, filed in seven large boxes and guarded by a federal marshal as reporters sifted through the mounds of paper, showed that the church concocted elaborate schemes to attack its critics. In one document, Hubbard gave his subordinates a four-point plan to attack any critics of Scientology, that included the admonitions: "Start investigating them promptly for felonies or worse using our own professionals, not outside agencies" and "Start feeding lurid, blood, sex, crime, actual evidence on the attackers to the press."

In Operation Freakout, church leaders plotted to get Paulette Cooper, an author who wrote a book entitled "The Scandal of Scientology," "incarcetrated in a mental institution or jail, or at least to hit her so hard that she drops her attacks," according to one document.

Cooper, who also searched through the documents with the newspaper reporters, long had learned of the church's campaign against her. But until the release of the Operation Freakout documents yesterday, Cooper had not seen the actual written plan to quiet her.

Among other things, church officials proposed to have a Scientologist with a voice similar to Cooper's call an Arab consulate in New York shouting obscenities and threatening, "I am going to bomb you . . ."

The Scientologists also plotted to have a member masquerading as Cooper go to a laundromat and make an angry bomb threat.

Cooper eventually was charged with perjury in connection with the alleged bomb threats, but later was cleared after being questioned under the influence of sodium pentathol, a truth serum.

One other interested observer on hand at yesterday's document release was Richard E. Tenney, one of five commissioners of Clearwater, Fla., where the church has large real estate holdings and a major office.

He said that documents previously released show that "in Clearwater we can see a pattern that anyone who speaks out against [the Scientologists] will be subjected to a campaign to get them out of office by any means. Their intent is to control the city of Clearwater."

Other documents released yesterday show church officials:

Discussed leaking information on former President Richard Nixon's tax returns to the Las Vegas Sun, but apparently scrapped the project for fear that a church operative would be discovered as the leaker.

Planned to leak the so-called Defeo report critical of the Drug Enforcement Administration to the Village Voice "to cause maximum chaos" to the DEA and the Justice Department. The plan, called Operation Chaos Leak, included elaborate details on how to leak the information without it being traced to the church.

Concocted a plan called Operation Bulldozer Leak "to effectively spread the rumor" that will lead the government and media "to conclude that LRH [Hubbard] has no control of the C of S [the Scientologists] and no legal liability for church activity."

This plan included use of church members as fake authors who would interview government officials and then casually mention that they'd "heard that LRH no longer has any control of the church."

Developed Operation Big Mouth in which church officials hoped to discredit Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Dodell, who had represented the government in several Scientology cases.

"Nathan Dodell is assiduously collecting files on Scientology to show (a) harassment of the U.S. government [by Scientologists] and (b) violations of the law by Scientology," according to one church letter.

"We must finally and terminatedly handle Mr. Dodell," a letter writer signed Jimmy said. "He has been on our lines for many, many years. I would like for you to have very accurate and complete surveys done on him in D.C., and mock up and carry out some very professional, smooth, ops [operations] which will depower him fully."

Church officials concluded later that Dodell would have to be guilty of criminal conduct before the church could get him fired, according to another document.