"...Nothing is sacred in a search! It is an alien,
brutal and crushing force, totally dominating
the apartment for hours on end, a breaking,
ripping open, Pulling from the walls, emptying
things from wardrobes and desks onto the floor,
shaking, dumping out, and ripping apart...."
The Gulag Archipelago
THEY came at dawn, in a long procession of shiny big cars filled with grim-faced men neatly dressed in jackets and ties.
In all, there were 156 of them - the largest number of FBI agents ever mustered for a single raid, in the history of the Bureau.
During the long day ahead, and far into the night (21 continuous hours), they would use huge battering rams, sledge hammers and buzz saws to smash and cut their way into rooms and offices of church buildings, where they would
conduct a massive search and seizure, unprecendented in American legal history.
En route now to the targets of their mission, the agents talked in subdued tones about the job they had been given to do. Even though they had been given two briefings by Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Banoun and others, they were still somewhat puzzled by the magnitude of the raid.
They had been told that they were to execute a search warrant at two locations on the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles. They would look for copies of documents stolen by Scientologists from federal agencies in Washington. According to the Justice Department attorneys, young Scientologists had infiltrated various Government offices, taken files pertaining to their church, made xerox copies, and returned the originals.
A criminal caper, to be sure. The evidence must be brought in to put them all in the slarnmer. That was understood.
But why was it necessary to bring FBI agents from all over the country and stage a major military maneuver just to seize 160-odd documents and files?
That kind of operation made the older and more experienced agents a little uneasy. Recent disclosures in the media of lawless acts by FBI agents had left many of them very apprehensive about their public image, so carefully nurtured all those years by the late Director. Morale in the Bureau was at an all-time low.
"What in hell is Scientology, anyway?" one of them asked.
"Some kind of religious cult," a fellow agent volunteered from the front seat. "I got the impression it's some kind of fraud. "
"Yeah, that's the kind of impression I got, too."
That was, indeed, the impression the U.S. attorneys who briefed the agents had wanted to convey. If the Church of Scientology were not a bona fide religion, it would not be necessary for the raiders to take precautions in seizing documents protected by First Amendment rights to religion and assembly.
"We're not concerned with Scientology practices," AUSA Raymond Banoun had told the agents during the previous
day's briefing. "They can call themselves a religion and hand out Carter's little liver pills for all I care. What we're concerned with here is the execution of a search warrant."
One convoy of cars and vans wound its way through the nearly-deserted streets of Los Angeles and turned into Fountain avenue, just off Vermont street. A short drive brought them to a massive complex of buildings occuping an entire city block, bordered by Sunset Boulevard and Fountain avenues on the east and west sides, and by Catalina and Berendo streets on the north and south.
The seven-story multi-winged structure had formerly been the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, but had recently been sold to the Church of Scientology, which was still in the process of moving into the mammoth property.
Although the main building of the complex faces on Fountain avenue, the church was using another entrance off Catalina street at the time the raid was carried out. A gate in the chain-link fence surrounding the former hospital was kept locked during the night hours.
The long line of cars pulled to the curb along Fountain avenue and into Catalina street, some of them parking in the tow-away red zones. Moving stealthily to avoid alerting church members inside the building, the agents emerged from their vehicles and began to assemble with their gear according to a pre-arranged plan.
Several carried walkie-talkies tuned to an elaborate communications network which connected them with similar raids being conducted simultaneously at another Scientology church in Hollywood, and in Washington, D.C., 3,000 miles across the continent.
One of the FBI agents was equipped with a "dog catcher" a long pole with a loop on the end. This was to deal with the German shepherd watch dog that, pre-raid surveillance had indicated, patrolled the grounds. The FBI had done a great deal of careful planning with regard to the dog, on the sound theory that while the apathetic American public would remain indifferent to their ravaging the Scientologists' human
rights, there would be hell to pay if they did not treat the dog humanely.
Accordingly, an agent was assigned the special task of obtaining the necessary equipment to handle the canine threat without harming the animal.
He turned to the Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who provided the pole-and-noose contrivance and carefully instructed the G-man in its use. As a back-up to this defensive adjunct, the U. S. Postal Service supplied the agents with aerosol cans of dog repellent which the Service kept on hand for postmen who had to face hostile bowzers on their delivery routes.
The bizarre band of raiders moved cautiously up to the gate as though expecting the people inside the building to suddenly open fire with machine guns. Leading the way, beside the watch-dog handler and agents carrying big crowbars, sledge hammers and bolt-cutters, was an arrest team armed agents prepared to deal decisively with the Scientologists in case they were heroically determined to resist this latest assault on their church.
Bolt cutters were applied to the locked gate, which gave way as easily as if a key had been used. The invaders poured through the opening and started up the curved driveway to the building entrance.
Special Agent in Charge Elmer Linberg has stated in a sworn statement that at that point, he pushed a call button outside the gate to attract the attention of the night guard.
"A white male was then seen to come out of the building entrance and after proceeding about ten feet stopped. I shouted, 'We are with the FBI and are here to serve a federal search warrant. 'The person remained stationary, whereupon I ordered SAs Jerome K. Crowe and Gary Lincoln to cut the lock on the gate for the purpose of gaining entry to the premises."
The "white male" - Scientologist Dennis Young - tells it differently, also in a statement made under oath:
"On the morning of July 8, 1977, 1 was sitting typing at my
desk just inside the former ambulance entrance to the main building. The guard dog, Goldie, got up, went to the office door and growled.
"I left the office quickly to go see who or what was outside, and as I came in sight of the gate, I saw a large group of men behind the gate, and more walking up toward it from the south.
"They were just starting to swing the gates in, and as I walked toward them, the whole group entered the driveway, swinging both gates wide. This was just after 6 a.m. I had heard no declaration or notice from them or who they were or what their intentions might be.
"I was puzzled, as that gate is always kept locked at night. I said, 'Who are you and how did you get in?' The foremost man answered, 'We're FBI and we have a search warrant.' He flashed me his identification; I believe his name was Linberg.
"I repeated my question as to their entrance, and he said, 'We cut the padlock - we'll put a new one on it.' "
As the agents came toward Young, Goldie the guard dog barked fiercely. The agents assigned to deal with the dog prepared themselves for the worst. The dog, however, stopped short of the intruders and studied them uncertainly, emitting occasional growls.
"Young was commanded to get the dog under control," SAC Linberg reported afterward, "and he replied that the dog was friendly."
Dennis Young's account continues:
"The first man of the group (the entire first wave appeared to be about 50 men) had now entered the lobby of the main building. Mr. Linberg asked for my name and title, which I gave him.
"He then wanted to know who was in charge here, and I asked if I could go and get Sandy MacDonald or Phil Harley, the legal representatives at the complex. Mr. Linberg asked if either one of them was in charge. I said no, and gave him Vic Selza's name.
"Next he yelled, 'We've got to have all these doors opened
or we'll break them down. He ran over to the Information Bureau door and demanded, 'I want this door opened!' and the men with sledge hammers and bars started toward that door.
"I was frightened by his demands, and thinking they might start breaking the door down, I said, 'Wait, I don't have a key to that door. Let me call the night watchman in there to open it. I dialed the phone and it rang about ten times before John Lake answered it.
"I told Lake that there were FBI agents out here in the lobby threatening to break the door down if he didn't open it. I turned to Mr. Linberg and asked to see the warrant (Lake had asked me over the phone to do this). Linberg gave me the warrant and I looked it over quickly. I said to Lake, 'Yes, they do have a search warrant, so you might as well open the door or they will break it open.'
"At this point, Linberg started shouting into the phone. 'Thirty seconds! You've got thirty seconds to stop stalling and open the door or we're coming in! Thirty seconds!' Mr. Linberg then advanced to the door again quickly and said to his men something to the effect of 'Come on, let's take it.' I said, 'Wait! He's on his way to open the door.' They stopped and looked as if they were disappointed that the door would be opened."
From the other side, John Lake, a young Scientologist who supervised the maintenance of the church's records, asked the agent to slide the warrant under the door.
"No," the G-man answered curtly. "You've got thirty seconds to open the door or we break it in."
Lake thought for a moment, wondering if he had any legal recourse for refusing to open the door without seeing the search warrant. He concluded that he did not and unlocked the door.
"The whole situation was unreal," he said afterward. "I couldn't believe it was happening, nor could anyone else when they first heard about it. Even staffers who called during the day thought it was some kind of joke when they
were told what was going on. They didn't believe such a thing could happen in America."
Once inside, the agents demanded the keys to all the inner offices. Lake explained that the people who worked there carried the keys to their own rooms and would not report for work until 9 o'clock.
Lake's assertion regarding the keys was confirmed by John Mettle, a public affairs officer for the church, who came downstairs after being awakened by the building caretaker who called him on the house phone and informed him that FBI agents had entered the complex.
"I explained to Mr. Linberg that I would cooperate fully in obtaining the keys to the offices," the church executive declared later in a sworn statement. "I then called the headquarters of the church at the Manor and had the switchboard operator there try to locate people with the required keys. There was no answer at any of the numbers I called.
"Mr. Linberg acted as if I had possession of the required keys or knew the whereabouts of the keys or the persons who had the keys and was wilfully withholding that information, despite my repeated explanation that I was not personally familiar with whom worked in the offices or where they lived or how to contact them. I repeatedly informed Mr. Linberg that I was attempting to locate the keys and that, failing all else, the persons with keys would arrive for work at 9 o'clock."
To this appeal to reason, Agent Linberg replied that the agents were going through the doors at 8 o'clock; that is to say, an hour before the Scientologists could obtain the keys to admit them.
Critics of the FBI saw in the whole keys interrogation episode, mere mouth-honour to due process, a bit of legal window-dressing for the record, to make the raiders look good when the case was heard in court.
After all, the agents had descended on the church at 6 O'clock in the morning, equipped with their own "keys" sledge hammers, power drills and wrecking bars - to effect
entries and at the same time to do as much damage as possible to the church property.
Special Agent Francis Calley testified later that "I am not aware that any effort was made by the FBI to get a locksmith to minimize the damage." This was so, Agent Calley admitted, even though two expert locksmiths - Agents Altheid and Snell - were on the scene.
Furthermore, the FBI agents had brought with them equipment used to drill the door locks with minimum damage. They preferred the sledgehammer, crowbars and buzz saws.
From the lobby area, the first contingent of invaders now entered the building's corridors and began to spread out through all floors of the entire complex. This despite the fact that in their search warrant and its supporting affidavit, there was not the slightest hint or suggestion that they had probably cause to search any part of the Cedars complex other than the Information Office, described in their own documents as "more particularly on the first floor housing the offices occupied by the Deputy Guardian for Information and his staff."
The lame explanation later offered by the FBI for this general, exploratory search was that they wished to "secure the premises," that is, to make certain there were no armed Scientologists in other parts of the building, who might still open fire on the Feds.
At the time of the raid, however, when a church official objected to the agents roaming through the entire complex, he was brusquely informed that the warrant covered the entire premises.
At 6:15 a.m., two FBI agents pounded heavily on the door of Luis Ymaz, on the second floor of the wing opposite the Information Office. Ymaz is a young architect from Mexico, whose position with the church was concerned solely with
Like most dedicated Scientologists, Ymaz had worked very late the previous night and decided to sleep in his office.
He is a well-educated youth, of slender build and friendly disposition, who speaks fluent English. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes as he opened his door, ready to greet any visitor with courtesy, even at that early hour.
The two men entered and identified themselves as FBI agents. Then, without further explanation, one of the G-men grabbed Ymaz and marched him to the wall of his office. There he put the bewildered young man, hands above his head, against the wall.
Ymaz, who was dressed only in his underwear, did not resist. He told me during an interview following the raid that he thought perhaps the FBI had mistaken him for someone else, - someone who had committed a serious crime.
During the next five minutes, the agents, who possessed all the instincts once, lauded by Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler, forced the architect to remain in this uncomfortable and humiliating posture while they rummaged through the papers in his desk. These consisted mostly of building plans, work reports and instructions from Ymaz's superior regarding renovations that were to be made in the Cedars complex.
While they were thus engaged, a third agent joined them and began to hammer on the floor. Luis Ymaz wondered what the purpose of these soundings was. Perhaps, he reflected, they thought the Scientologists were hiding drugs or contraband under the floor. Maybe some enemy of the church had given them a false "tip" to embarrass the movement. It had happened before, not once but many times.
"Here are the plans," one of the agents announced after searching through all the papers in Ymaz's desk.
The architect recalls that the agent then came over to him where he was still pinned to the wall and asked the youth to point out the location of his office on the set of plans the
invaders had found.
"I did this and asked if I could get dressed. I was allowed to do this while one agent followed me into the main office."
A fourth intruder arrived at that point, carrying a walkietalkie. He began to question Ymaz regarding the streets surrounding the complex. He asked if there were other gates besides the one through which they had entered. Which doors were locked and who had the keys? He also wanted to know where the fire door led and how many guards might be in the complex at that hour.
After Ymaz had satisfied their thirst for knowledge concerning the physical characteristics of their present surroundings, they began to ask him personal questions having not the remotest relation to the ostensible purpose of their search.
"They wanted to know what my position was with the church, what my occupation had been in Mexico; whether many people in Mexico know about the Church of Scientology; where did I first hear about Scientology; how long had I been involved with the church; where was I living, and so on."
At the end of the grilling, Ymaz was walked out of his office by one of the agents who brought a chair and ordered him to sit in the hallway while the search of his office continued.
By 6:30 a.m. the first wave of federal agents had penetrated to the sixth floor of the main building. This area of the complex was used solely as the private residential quarters of the church staff.
The residents, both early risers and those still asleep, were startled to hear a loud clamor through the corridors outside their rooms. There was boisterous shouting and banging as a tide of men's voices moved through the hallways.
The agents were held to no orderly or lawful standards in
their incursion. They opened doors without knocking and burst into the bedrooms where individuals and married couples were sleeping or just getting dressed for the day. They likewise errupted into bathrooms, where Scientologists were taking their morning showers.
In one or two instances, agents were reported moving with more deliberation. They opened doors ever so slowly and peek-a-booed inside, prompting the Scientologists later to dub them Peeping Edgars.
jenny Strasser, one of the church members whose privacy was violated, recalled afterward in a sworn statement:
"I was in my bedroom with my husband. At this time I was undressed and lying under, a sheet, and my husband was in the bathroom. Our bedroom door started to open very slowly, and when it was open all the way, a man stepped into the room very suddenly, held out something in his hand and said, 'FBI, we're executing a warrant.' "
The Strasser's living quarters were situated six floors away from the church's Information Office, the area named in the search warrant and its supporting affidavit.
Chris Lynch, who worked as caretaker at the Cedars came into the hallway between the Lebanon Building and the main edifice of the complex, unaware that a raid was in progress.
As he approached the Telephone Communication Room, he stopped dead and stared in disbelief at three men smashing through the door with big sledge hammers. His first thought was that they were from the telephone company, and had to enter the room in an emergency. He yelled out:
"Hey, what in hell are you doing?"
"FBI," one of the men said curtly. "We are executing a search warrant. Are you in charge here?"
"Not yet. I'm coming on duty."
"Have you a key to this door?"
"Yes. But before I turn it over to you, I want to see the search warrant."
The assault team did not have 'a copy of the warrant. They informed Lynch that it was "around the corner."
Lynch went to consult with his superior about what course of action he should follow. When he returned to the Communications Room a short time later, he found the door splintered and standing ajar. Inside the room, several G-men were already busy as Johnny at the rathole reading through church files and photgraphing everything but the damaged door.
The caretaker left them at their arduous task and raced down the corridor towards the glass doors leading into another suite of offices when he observed five more agents heading that way with sledge hammers.
"I arrived before they could do any damage to that door," he said later with some satisfaction. "But I did not have the keys to the MEAM offices and they started smashing down the door before anyone could get the keys. They took turns smashing the door with a sledge hammer until it gave way.
-Then they went in and started going through the crates and papers. They opened the file cabinets and pulled the files out and started reading the material. I left after I was sure they weren't going to break any more doors."
Another Scientologist who witnessed the violent entry declared: "They really seemed to get their jollies swinging those sledge hammers."
By 7 a.m., the horde of raiders had now taken over control of the entire premises. Agents were stationed at the complex entrance where they could make trouble for anyone wishing to enter or leave. Church staff members were excluded from their offices or ordered to remain in them depending upon the whim of the search-team leader in a particular area.
Church members having no relationship to the Guardian
office, covered by the warrant, were interrogated about personal matters, sometimes photgraphed; and their names taken down if they wished to enter or leave Cedars.
The agents had no statutory authority whatever to impose limitations on persons entering or leaving the premises, and to control the single point of access to the entire complex.
As Defense Attorney Philip Hirschkopf later observed to the court, it was a very serious Fourth Amendment incursion.
"They take control of a whole premise and then have to inquire into religious affiliation and business with a church, in order to give someone ingress and egress. The magistrate, the neutral and detached magistrate, did not place that limitation. That was a self-imposed limitation of the FBI."
Even so, the Scientologists gave the FBI agents tough work to do. Sensibly realizing that they were helpless, physically, to oppose the federal myrmidons who were unreasonably, illegally and outrageously intruding upon their liberty, they chose the weapon of the oppressed - mockery and laughter.
Staff members went into action throughout the complex. As one of the participants described it to me:
"There were 260 staff outside the building singing songs, with a banjo player doing his thing like crazy; and people were mowing the lawn and sweeping the rocks and mopping the floors like mad inside. And they were having these incredible broom races - running back and forth with brooms. A number of people had pieces of steel-wool, and they were standing right next to the gate, along the fence where the FBI agents were stationed and were ostensibly cleaning little patches of rust off the gate. One would say, 'Oh, look! hey Harry, come on over here, there's a little spot.' And they would go at it vigorously, whistling all the while - just five inches from the FBI's face. This was at seven o'clock in the morning! The FBI was going crazy. The agent in charge shouted: 'Why are all these people out here!'
This tragi-comic scene immediately calls up a passage in FÃ¼lÃ¶p-Miller's The Mind and Face of Bolshevism in which he describes how the people of Russia found relief from the Kremlin's pressures of force and tyranny in a rising tide of laughter and irony:
"At first, one person smiled, then others in increasing numbers. Soon the smiles united in a mystical organization and then mirth at last expanded into uncontrollable elemental laughter. The first revolt against Bolshevik oppression was the rebellion of the despairing; even more frequently the hidden wrath became irony, ever more loudly swelled an uncanny mirth, which threatened to shake the very foundations of the whole structure of State authority . . ."
The Scientologist scenario was but a variation upon the same theme. And just as the despotic masters of the Red Kremlin found themselves helpless against the "elemental outburst of all-dissolving mirth," so the federal "crime fighters" who swarmed through the Cedars complex were powerless against the delirious rapture of the oppressed.
Threats of placing them all under arrest for obstructing sworn officials of the U.S. Government in carrying out their duties were lost amid the loud buffoneries of the crowd.
Nor was hilarious mockery the only requital to which the Scientologists had recourse. A member of the church's public relations staff conceived another clever idea. In his own words:
"We got six or eight girls together and had them dress up to look their best - and Scientology women are beautiful and we sent them down to the galley to get coffee, cream and sugar. They put these things on trays, with some fresh fruit. Then they went throughout the buildings and as the FBI agents were smashing the doors in with all this power, and wrecking everything with sledge hammers and crowbars, these beautiful girls walked through, saying, 'Would you like some coffee, sir?
"Well, the agents didn't know what to do. It was so totally out of their reality. You have no idea. The guy would kind of
stutter: 'Oh, coffee - uh - well, I - uh . . .'
"And while they were serving, the girls would ask very pleasantly, as though they were just making conversation: 'Is this the first time you have ever raided a church?'"
Heber Jentzsch, Public relations director of the church, arrived at the main gate to Cedars at 7:45 a.m. An able and imaginative man with a flair for the dramatic, he had been responsible for some of the most successful attention-getting demonstrations against Government misconduct during the preceeding five years.
As he approached the entrance, he observed several newsmen milling about the area in front of the gateway, evidently having been refused admission to the complex by the FBI. Five men wearing plastic badges saying "FBI" guarded access to the driveway. Several others were moving in and out of the gate. Some of the agents carried small walkie-talkie sets; and one man operated a switching unit that provided contact with the FBI's central communications.
Jentzsch walked up to one of the agents monitoring the entrance and asked to go inside. The federal minion was anything but the Ephram Zimbalist stereotype, the "image" so dear to the heart of the late Director. Rather, he was typical in dress, demeanor and speech - of the tough cop. The shoulder-holster bulging through his blue coat identified him as a member of what the Scientologists called the goon squad, and the FBI termed "an arrest team." His face wore a look of absurd pomposity, which an untrimmed red mustache did nothing to diminish. His insolence of voice was meant to intimidate when he replied to the Scientologist:
"Who are you?"
Undaunted by the G-man's truculence, Jentzsch answered: "Well, who are you? This is my church and I don't know who you are."
"I don't have to identify myself. I'm the FBI."
"How do I know that?"
"Let me see your I.D." the agent demanded.
"Let me see yours."
Complying with Bureau regulations, the FBI man withdrew his I.D. card from inside his jacket and waved it in the air, then quickly returned it to his pocket.
Jentzsch protested. "Wait a minute; that was too fast. I didn't see your name. I still don't know who you are."
"Listen, wise ass," the agent said, speaking from one side of his mouth. "You want to go inside?"
"Yeah, I'd like to."
"Then you'd better be cool, man, because we're running this show."
Jentzsch nodded toward the group of newsmen crowding about the gate. "I have some friends here from the media. They'd like to come inside and watch you fellows work."
"They're not allowed!" Glaring at the camera held by a news photographer who was pressing forward, the federal Cerberus added: "You bring that camera in here and I'll take your fucking camera and I'll break it and I'll tear up the film. You got that?"
"I am a minister of this church and that is our building, and I want this man in there to watch you fellows do your work. "
"Well, he can't come in."
"What law says he can't come in?"
"We are the law."
Jentzsch turned to his friends of the media. "I'd like to have you guys come in and see what's going on. But you see how it is - I can't get you in."
Escorted by three FBI agents, the Scientology minister entered the complex. Inside the gate the German shepherd watch dog, who had earlier accepted a gustatory bribe and defected to the enemy, now barked at the only member of the four-man group who rightfully belonged there. Jentzsch paused to remonstrate.
"Goldie, I'm not one of them," he explained, but to no avail.
"You know," he said later, "for months after that, that dog always barked at me when I came through the gate."
As Jentzsch entered the lobby of the main building, he heard the crash of doors going down under the thunderous blows of sledge hammers and battering rams.
"The agents were laughing and having a good time breaking in the doors," the minister declared later in a sworn statement. "I went to the man in charge, Elmer Linberg, and asked that the agents be identified. He told me that they didn't have to be identified, that all I needed to know was his name, as he was in charge. He was very firm about none of the agents being identified."
If the secret police who were demolishing church property would not identify themselves, Rev. Jentzsch reasoned that the next best means of compiling a break-in Who's Who would be to photograph the light-hearted wreckers at work.
He discussed this plan with the Rev. David Butterworth, who was in charge of the Cedars staff and who immediately approved.
"He sent all his staff upstairs and they came back with about 25 cameras, just like that," Rev. Jentzsch subsequently reported. "We sent a whole bunch of guys out to buy extra film. Then we found another four or five guys who owned tape recorders. They came down with their recorders and we sent them into the complex. The FBI sent them back out, and we sent them back in. And so it went. But we got some interesting stuff on our tapes all the same."
At 8 a.m., Henzel Boyer, an egg vendor, stopped his truck outside the entrance to the Cedars complex, to deliver an order. He was unaware that a raid was in progress until two FBI agents asked him to identify himself. They then interrogated him concerning his business, his personal relation, if
any, with Scientology, and so on.
Over Mr. Boyer's protests, the agents conducted a search of his truck, despite the fact that they had no search warrant nor legal authority to do so.
After the egg man had made his delivery to the complex, he was subjected to another search before he was allowed to leave.
Five FBI agents, one carrying a sledge hammer and another a crowbar, paused before a closed door near the church Information Bureau in the main building. One of the agents tried to enter and found that the room was locked. Turning to a Scientologist who had followed the raiders down the hallway, he asked:
"What's in there?"
"It's just a paint room," the staff member told him truthfully. "There's nothing in there but some paint buckets."
"Oh, yeah?" The agent in charge looked at the Scientologist without altering the frozen grin of cynicism at the corner of his mouth. "Break it down!" he ordered.
The man with the brawny arm, a blond, blue-eyed athlete, wearing a dark blue business suit, backed away and poised the heavy sledge hammer.
The first blow bounced off the sturdy knob as -though it had been a rock. It was a strong door. The agent in charge nodded knowingly.
The muscular G-man continued swinging the weighty sledge. After each jolting impact, another member of the team tried the handle to see if the door would open. The knob had to be blasted completely through the panel before the door gave way.
"Okay, step back!" ordered the team leader, rushing into the room. Looking about him, he commanded: "Freeze everything."
About him was a litter of paint buckets, tarpaulin drops
and scraps of paper. That was the total contents of the room. Nevertheless, as the other agents forged in after him, the senior agent ordered them to "Dust the entire place." [for fingerprints].
This was an act of imbecility so bizarre that one of the church staff members who had been watching the operation, shook his head in disbelief.
"Man, oh man!" he exclaimed. "This is unreal. It's so totally wacko!"
He turned away in disgust, leaving the special agents to execute their search warrant among the paint buckets, drop cloths and refuse scattered about the floor.
Ian Shillington, a church employee, was assigned by his superior to make a head count of the agents engaged in the raid at Cedars. He was neatly dressed in suit and tie and at first glance could easily be mistaken for one of the raiders.
Carrying a clip board, he started to make a careful enumeration of the federal detectives searching the offices and rooms of the complex. As he moved down the corridor, he observed that the agents were now all gravitating toward one room. He fell in step with the others and followed them into a large room where they assembled for a briefing from Elmer Linberg, the FBI strike-fource director.
"All right, men, now this is it," he told the G-men. "If anyone asks you why you're here, you're here looking for stolen Government documents. Now what you're really looking for is any file on the FBI, the IRS, the Medical Association or the Better Business Bureau."
The Scientologist infiltrator was writing it all down. An FBI agent next to him asked: "What are you doing?"
"I'm just taking notes, Shillington replied.
"Oh, I see," the agent said. He seemed satisfied with that explanation, believing no doubt that the church employee was part of the federal team.
Elmer Linberg, however, was also attracted to the young man taking notes. His eyes rested only briefly on the intruder, before he asked:
"Who in hell are you?"
"Oh, I'm just here taking notes."
"You're not one of us."
"No, I'm just taking notes."
"Get that son-of-a-bitch out of here!" stormed the special agent in charge. Shillington was escorted to the door.
Members of the media were continuing to arrive, only to be informed at the gateway that they could not enter the complex while the raid was in progress. They were reduced to picking up what information they could from the FBI agents stationed outside the premises, and from each other.
When reporter Leo McElroy of Los Angeles Chanel 7 arrived with his camera crew, he asked one of the Scientologists at the entrance to ask Rev. Jentzsch, who, he knew, served as press liaison, if he could come outside to talk to the news-hungry members of the Fourth Estate.
Rev. Jentzsch obliged with his customary geniality - and resourcefulness. After warm greetings to the new arrivals, and with one eye cocked toward the strike-force director, Elmer Linberg, who stood not far off, he said:
"I'd certainly like to see you guys come inside where the action is."
"Well, I just understood from my cameraman they aren't going to let us in," Leo McElroy told him.
"Yeah, that's the scene," Rev. Jentzsch agreed. "But there's Mr. Linberg, who's in charge here." Then, raising his voice, "Mr. Linberg, why don't you come over here and the two of us will share the camera and discuss this situation."
"I'm not standing next to you!" the FBI raid director fumed. "I have nothing to say to you people."
Rev. Jentzsch spread his hands in resignation and addres-
sed the TV newsman once more. "Ah, that's too bad. Mr. Linberg won't come over."
"I understand, Rev. Jentzsch," said McElroy. "But let's do an interview anyway."
The television crew set up their camera, and the church spokesman had the field to himself. He gave an accurate, straightforward account of what was happening, while the FBI agents remained surly onlookers.
After the interview, as the camera crew were putting away their equipment, the TV reporter drew Rev. Jentzsch aside.
"Look," he said, "I talked to a couple of the FBI agents. They don't really like Elmer Linberg. They told me that one thing that drives Linberg crazy is if you call him, Elmer. And they said not to let him find out they had leaked that information."
"Thanks very much," said Rev. Jentzsch with genuine enthusiasm, and took it from there.
Throughout the remainder of the day, an ever growing number of Scientologists addressed. the Special Agent in Charge by his homespun first name.
"I would ask him," said Rev. Jentzsch, "politely, of course, 'Elmer, can you tell me what law you're operating under?' He was such an ass, you know, raving and ranting and threatening people. One time, the phone rang in the lobby area and I answered it. Someone wanted to talk to Elmer Linberg - on our telephone, with all their communications setup and tremendous support system. I said to an FBI agent standing near, 'Call Elmer; he's wanted on the phone!' And the guy was laughing and he shouted, 'Elmer's wanted on the phone!'
"Later in the day, I was preparing to go into one of the offices and he was near the entrance. I said, 'Elmer, can I talk to you for a minute?' And he was livid. He grabs the door and slams it in my face, so I can't go in. He stands in front of me about three inches from my face and says through his teeth, 'You quit calling me Elmer!' I said, 'Okay, Elmer; whatever you want. Look, I'll tell you what. You can call me
Heber and I'll call you Elmer.' "
"No," the G-man snarled, "I'll call you Heber and you'll call me Mister Linberg!"
The Scientology minister waited for Agent Linberg to move his foot that was blocking the door, then continued on his way, saying over his shoulder as he entered the room, "Okay, Elmer."
The exasperated FBI chief looked after him with a heavy scowl, and muttered:
"I'll straighten out his act!"
Christopher Lynch, Cedars caretaker, accompanied five FBI agents as they forced their way into first-floor offices which housed archives of the church's religious confessional records. These were highly confidential files pertaining to the private lives and spiritual counseling of church members. They were not remotely related to the alleged objectives of the FBI search and were presumed to be protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The agents expressed dismay at the huge number of folders confronting them.
"I sure wouldn't want to be the ones who examine all these and have to put them back in alphabetical order," one of the raiders commented.
The church employee explained to them that these were counseling folders and that the church merely acted as custodians for the members.
Viewing the massive accumulation, one agent asked how long the church had been providing that service to its parishoners.
"Since about 1950," Lynch told them.
Even though they were thus fully informed of the nature and legally protected content of the files, two of the agents began reading the material. Owing to the terminology used in the reports - terms peculiar to Scientology - they found
the going rough. After perusing a few of the files, the agents boggled and returned the folders to their assigned places.
"Did you find what you were looking for?" Lynch asked them.
"No," said one of the searchers, "I couldn't read the goddamn stuff."
"They left the Services Building a bit dissatisfied," the caretaker witness related afterward.
Agents conducting an intensive search elsewhere among the church offices also encountered confessional files, but made a more exhaustive examination of them.
According to Mack Ingber, about 15 men wearing FBI badges took over and thoroughly ransacked his and adjoining offices. They systematically went through personal belongings, letters and correspondence in desk drawers and carefully read through more confessional folders, including that of Ingber's wife, even though they were informed that the church was at great pains to keep them confidential.
In a sworn statement afterward, Mark Ingber added: "I also observed another FBI man looking through contents of the file cabinet in an office adjoining mine. He looked at the file labeled "Jazz" and another labeled "Cosmic." He said, 'This looks interesting.' ("Cosmic" and "Jazz" are telex codes used in church business communications).
"This man brought the file to the man who seemed to be in charge and asked if he should take those. The man in charge told him: 'No, we already have all their codes.' The team leader then said to take them to another man and ask him if they should be taken.
"A short time later they came back and an FBI man said they would keep them. I asked him to show me where in the warrant these items were listed, He pulled out a photocopied list about six pages long and said:
" 'We always have a catch-all clause to cover anything we want to take.' "
This overbroad view of the search warrant was later confirmed by FBI Agent Francis Calley, who, as No. 1 assistant
to the Special Agent in Charge, was present from beginning to end of the raid. Testifying in court, Agent Calley admitted:
"A cursory search was ordered of the entire premises to locate any area where there were files."
The G-man's use of the word "cursory" to describe a rummaging exploration lasting 21 hours during which the agents scrutinised one million pieces of paper, makes "poetic license" seem a rigidly mathematical term by comparison.
Agent Calley seemed to have a penchant for gross understatement. During his later testimony in court, he referred to the 156 agents who took part in the Cedars raid, as "several. "
An FBI agent carrying a walkie-talkie overheard a church public relations man arranging a press conference to brief all the media on the raids. He immediately reported to the FBI command post:
"They're having a press conference. They're having a press conference at 2 o'clock.
"Well, where is it?"
"It's at the Los Angeles Press Club."
"Well, get a man over there.!'
This exchange by the FBI eavesdropper was overheard by the Scientologist who had been eavesdropped upon. He made a mental note to look for the interloper being sent to infiltrate the news conference.
Upon his arrival at the Press Club, however, the church's press representative found that the FBI "plant" had already been noticed.
"It was very funny," the Scientologist recalled afterward. "All the media guys were greeting each other - "Hi, Joe, how are you? Hey, good to see you, Leo; big thing, huh?' And they're all talking and all in tremendous communication, and there's this one guy standing in the middle of the
Los Angeles Press Club alone, in a suit and tie and wearing dark glasses. And in his pocket is one of those radio units, which you can see.
"Kenny Whitman [church president] walks up to me and says,
Who is that guy?' I said, I've never seen him in Los Angeles, and I
know most of the members of the media in this city.
"Kenny then walks over to the guy and says, 'Pardon me, sir, what are you doing here?' And the loner says, 'Oh, I'm here to cover the press conference.' So Kenny asks him, 'Which news medium do you represent?' It's a public place,' the FBI agent told him; 'Anybody can be here in a public place.'
" 'Yes, Sir,' Kenny agreed, 'but you haven't told me what news organization you're with.' And the agent says again, 'This is a public place; I can be anywhere I want.'
" 'No,' Kenny told him, 'you're FBI and you can't be here. We paid for the use of this hall, so get out of here.' And again, the super-fuzz tells him, 'You can't throw me out; it's a public place.'
"Kenny comes back to me and asks where he can find the Club manager. He was standing only a short distance away and I pointed him out. Kenny says, 'Right/ and marches over to the manager and tells him: "Listen, that guy over there is FBI. He's not invited to this news conference, and I want him thrown out of here.'
"The manager said, 'Sure, you paid for the room.' So he goes over to the agent and tells him he can't stay. The agent repeats the same affirmation as before: 'This is a public place/ and so on. But the Club manager was firm. 'They paid for the room, mister, and you're not invited. I'm sorry, you'll have to leave.'
"So the FBI agent goes out. I walked over to the door to see where he went. He's just outside, haveing to call in on his walkie-talkie. They were asking him, 'Well, what's happening?' And he says, 'I don't know, they threw me out.' 'They what! Go back in there.' He says, 'I can't. They paid
for the room; I can't go back in.'
"His superior was still yelling at him when I shut the door so he couldn't hear what we were saying, and we held our press conference.
"I see it as the most incredible kind of stupidity - a fascist mentality. I try to look on the thing from its humorous side. I could dwell on the other side - their arrogant incompetence. That's the serious aspect. Their incompetence is dangerous."
FBI staff phoographers roamed the Cedars complex, taking pictures not only of the premises, but of church members and staff. None of the latter were named in the warrant or supporting affidavit, nor had any relationship with the Guardian's Office - ostensible target of the FBI raid. As the church's legal counsel later pointed out to the court, this extensive and indiscriminate activity, further encroached upon the privacy of the Scientologists' associational rights. It was, in fact, a form of extra-legal harrassment.
When church employees, in turn, sought to snap pictures of the agents engaged in smashing down doors and plundering church files, they were threatened with arrest.
Throughout the day, various members of the FBI team of pillagers were observed going in and out of the areas searched, carrying heavy boxes and files. Scientologists complained that they had no way of knowing whether files were being removed from the complex without being listed on the FBI inventory or, even worse, whether documents were being brought into church offices and planted there as false evidence.
Special Agent in charge, Elmer Linberg refused to allow a church attorney to check documents being seized against the FBI inventory compiled at the scene. Assistant U. S. Attorney Henry Schuelke, who accompanied the raiders, responded curtly to a query about the accuracy of the check-list. "We're
not making this inventory for your benefit, but for the U.S. to keep track of things."
Late in the evening, agents were still arriving - several carloads of them. They brought with them large file boxes, bags, typewriters, notebooks and papers. These were carried into the complex and the office equipment set up in various areas. A team of 25 to 30 stenographers was also brought in; they began at once to catalogue the enormous mass of material being confiscated by the Government.
One of the last items to be appropriated by the federal marauders was a large organizational display board in one of the back rooms. As the agents ripped it off the wall and started to carry it away, a church executive asked Agent Elmer Linberg:
"What has our Organization Board got to do with stolen Government documents?"
'Nothing really," the G-man answered. "But we want it."
At about 3 a.m., a huge, 16-ton truck backed up to the main entrance of Cedars and was loaded almost to capacity with files, documents, correspondence and miscellaneous items quarried from church offices during the 21 hours of intensive ravage.
By 3:15 a.m. the last agents had departed.
Behind them they left splintered doorways, broken cabinets, disorder and bewilderment.
Figuratively they also left scattered through the 62 offices and rooms one document which they had torn to shreds: the U.S. Constitution, that "parchment barrier against tyranny."
During the Cedars foray, similar incursions were taking place at another location in Hollywood, and at the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, D. C.
All three raids had been synchronised to occur at the same time.
The FBI's second target in the Los Angeles area was Fiefield
Manor, a seven-storey former apartment building. The first five floors provide hotel rooms for church members who come to Los Angeles for Scientology courses, counseling and other religious activities. The sixth and seventh floors are occupied by the church's Guardian Office.
A few minutes before 6 a.m., Peter Mead, night receptionist at the Manor, looked up from the hotel switchboard to see two men enter the lobby. Both were dressed in gray business suits, and both wore the humourless, stodgy expression that is typical of secret police in any country.
They approached the reception desk and one of them said:
"We'd like to see Henning Heldt."
As he spoke, a third agent appeared and joined the first two at the desk.
"I don't think he is in yet," the desk clerk replied, "but I will ring his office." He reached for the telephone.
At that point the agent who had made the enquiry moved swiftly behind the desk and tapped the receptionist on the shoulder. "Would you step over here, please?" he asked in a tone that was not a question, but a command. He then led. the Scientologist away from the switchboard.
As though following a prearranged plan, the three agents, acting in unison, then took plastic I.D. badges from their pockets and pinned them to their jacketsm Their spokesman said:
"We are the FBI. We have a search warrant, and we are looking for Henning Heldt."
The Rev. Henning Heldt was a senior officer of the church, whose suite of offices was named in the Description of Premises, attached to the search warrant.
Having been removed from his post at the switchboard, however, the receptionist was unable to do much about locating the man the agents had asked for.
Other G-men were now entering the Manor, some of them carrying wrecking tools - a bolt cutter, two-by-four battering rams, and a large sledge hammer.
Three or four of the agents barraged Mead with questions
regarding the names and addresses of church officers, what was in "the other building" (indicating the Manor annex), what building were they now in, and where "any other files" might be.
The Scientologist was not shown a search warrant. He asked the agents what they were searching for and, according to a written statement, he was told that they were looking for a single document that had been stolen from the Government.
A woman carrying a portable typewriter entered the lobby and went directly to the elevator. Mead was asked how to turn on the elevator, but he informed his univited guests that he did not know. Thereupon, the stenographer, accompanied by the demolition crew, abandoned the passenger lift and entered the freight elevator which was operational.
The raiders at the Manor did not intrude into the residential quarters as their fellow agents had done at Cedars; but, in other respects, the operation followed a similar course. Areas and offices not included in the warrant, even by implication, were entered and ransacked.
The majority of agents maintained their official attitude of surliness and incivility throughout the raid. When one or two of them on occasion deviated into decency, they were quickly brought into line.
By way of example:
Peter Glickman, resident manager of the Manor Hotel was approached by an FBI agent, who asked him if he would be willing to witness the search of the Rev. Henning Heldt's office. He agreed and was escorted by two agents down the corridor toward the Deputy Guardian's suite. As he approached, he saw that the door to the office was badly splintered, having been forced open. The knob and lock had been smashed and were lying on the floor.
The Scientologist turned to one of the FBI agents to ask:
"How did all this happen?"
The G-man began to explain, but he was cut short by Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Banoun, who, in a radical
departure from the Justice Department's usual practice, accompanied the FBI personnel on the raid.
"Don't tell him anything," he snapped. "Let him find out in court."
That was typical of Banoun. He was at the peak of his form as a ruthless prosecutor. Few men in his job have been in such temperamental harmony with their work. Slightly built and dark-complexioned, his quick movements and sharp features gave the impression of a formidable opponent in a legal joust, where skill at semantic thrust and parry is the decisive factor in the outcome of any judicial proceeding. A colleague described him as "bright, persistent, and selfrighteous."
Opposing counsel in the pre-trial proceedings which followed the raids went further. They charged that he had made misrepresentations to the court, abused the power of subpoena, and engaged in other acts they considered devious and unethical. One of the attorneys representing the church officials lodged a complaint against Banoun with the Bar Association's Board of Professional Responsibility, formally alleging misconduct by the Government attorney.
Such a step is not taken lightly amongst the legal fraternity who (as I believe, Shakespeare once observed), do strive mightily with one another in the legal arena, and then sit down together for a pleasant lunch.
As the raid proceeded at the Manor, certain other facets of the Banoun persona manifested themselves.
After an intensive search of every cabinet, every desk, every drawer of the Deputy Guardian's office - purportedly within the scope of the warrant - the raiders, under the guidance and counsel of Banoun, turned their attention to areas clearly outside the geographical limits of the warrant. One of these was the church's Communications Department. Several agents entered this office and over the objections of a church representative began ransacking it. They were joined by Assistant U.S. Attorney Banoun who, according to JerÃ© Matlock, an eyewitness to the scene, "was
joking around with several of the agents," when a news release from the church's press bureau came in on the telex machine.
Banoun ripped the copy off the machine and showed it around to the agents present, saying derisively that he must be a "suppressive person." This was a mocking reference to the language of the press release which called the FBI raid "suppressive."
The Asst. U. S. Attorney had no legal right to touch the telex copy, much less to seize and taunt his victims with it.
Nor was he acting with any greater authority than the arrogance of office when he grilled church staff member Janet Lawrence before approving a search of her office by the G-men acting under his direction.
The office in question was housed in a cabana - or, as the Scientologists referred to it, a "hut" - situated on the northeast corner of the Manor roof. The structure is physically isolated and wholly separate from the Deputy Guardian's office named in the search warrant, and from all other offices and rooms of the sixth floor.
Peter Glickman, resident director of the Manor, reported:
"In the early afternoon, at about 2 p.m., I was in the corridor of the sixth floor and saw out the window that three or four agents were walking about on the rooftop, examining the Cont Comm office, as if looking for entry. About 20 minutes later, I was told by Agent McCarthy that the only entrance to the Cont Comm office was through the Deputy Guardian's office (which is not true), and that the Cont Comm office appeared to be locked. He said the agents wanted to search it, and asked me if I had or could obtain the key. He said that if I couldn't arrange to have it opened, they would break into it."
It is important to note here that neither the search warrant nor its supporting affidavit mentioned Mrs. Lawrence, nor referred to her, nor to her office, nor to her post title Controller Communicator - not even obliquely.
This deficiency, however, did not trouble Assistant U.S.
Attorney Banoun in the least. He had already arrogated to himself the authority to search where he pleased and to seize whatever struck his fancy. He had informed one of the first church representatives to arrive on the sixth floor of the Manor after the agents had broken in, that the warrant. covered "the entire premises."
"Janet Lawrence, when informed of the situation by telephone," continued Rev. Glickman, "agreed to come over immediately and open her office for the agents."
Jerb Matlock, another staff member, was present when Mrs. Lawrence arrived. He recalls that Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Banoun began at once to interrogate her in the manner of a police detective "working over" a criminal suspect.
In "an offensive and accusatory tone," he demanded to know whom Mrs. Lawrence worked for; what was in her office, and so on. She was informed that if she did not open the office forthwith, the raiders would smash their way in."
She unlocked the door and ten agents swarmed into her office, where they began to search her files, desk, and cabinets.
Craig Jensen, another church official who observed the incursion, said:
"I observed these agents during the entire afternoon, as they meticulously looked through and read every piece of paper in the office. The procedure was very deliberate; the documents were not cursorily or rapidly inspected. They were examined very closely. I observed at least one hundred documents set aside to be seized from this office."
An FBI photographer took pictures of everything, including portraits of individuals hanging on the walls. One of the church's lawyers later implied in court that the purpose of the latter was to obtain pictures of Mrs. L. Ron Hubbard, wife of Scientology's founder, and others, for purposes unrelated to the case at bar.
In a legal brief supporting a motion to suppress the use of documents thus seized by the Government, the team of
lawyers representing the church wrote:
"That those were searches of the offices of a church, and that the affidavit of [FBI] agent Tittle indicated that the church files would contain innocuous and protected documents, called for heightened sensitivity as to the manner in which the warrants were executed, in order to minimize unnecessary intrusions into private papers.
"Indeed, the files maintained in the offices covered by the warrants did contain papers that were completely innocent, protected, and unrelated to the purposes of the search. Papers in the DGUS [Deputy Guardian - U.S.] office included legal pleadings and legal strategy, documents on corporate matters and files concerning performance of staff.
"The Information Office contained files of the confidential communications of church staff members and applicants for church staff, given with the understanding that they would remain private and confidential. These communications were imparted for the purpose of staff 'applications,' and would contain confessional information concerning medical, familial and sexual history.
"Against this background of the confidential and protected nature of the files maintained in the church, the FBI proceeded to engage in a search which subjected virtually the entirety of the files maintained in the DGUS office and the Church's Information Bureau to the deliberate and unfettered examination of the FBI."
In view of this insolent and overt violation of the Bill of Rights, it is not surprising that the sworn agents of the Government did not welcome close scrutiny of their actions by their victims. They were especially opposed to having a record made of their conversations or a photograph of the agents in action.
During the search of Fifield Manor, one of the church staff carrying a tape recorder, entered one of the offices being plundered. He placed it on a desk, plugged it in at the wall, and turned it on. An FBI agent working nearby asked what it was. Informed that it was a tape recorder, he asked if it was
on. The church official admitted that it was.
"The agent then told me I could not tape record in there, and unplugged the machine," the Scientologist recalled. "I said yes, I could, as it was private property. I plugged the recorder in again. The agent unplugged it once more and told me quite angrily that no way was I going to tape. He picked up the machine and took it into the outer office and set it on the desk where Assistant U.S. Attorney Banoun was perusing church documents, and said:
" 'There's to be no tape recording, right?'"
AUSA Banoun, the ad-hoc lawgiver and Jupiter Rex of the raid, decreed that there was to be none. The staff member asked him for a citation of law to back up his decision, but in reply was treated to legal corn on the cob.
Predictably, the FBI agent had his way.
In another incident, church staff member Lee Thoburn began to take notes of the agents' conversation as they rifled the files of the Deputy Guardian's outer office. One of the agents told the Scientologist he could not make notes. Thoburn disagreed, but after a moments argument, decided to leave the area. The agent would not permit him to leave, however, before seizing the notes already made, and reading them. Then the agent told Thoburn to come over to the desk and he would write him out a subpoena.
A minister of the church, who observed the incident, declared:
"Until their disagreement, I saw or heard nothing on the part of Lee [Thoburn] or the agent that indicated there was any likelihood that a subpoena was forthcoming, so it appeared this act was taken as a threat or reprisal on the part of the agent."
The same hypersensitivity prevailed among the G-men with respect to picture-taking. Although two official FBI photographers roamed about the Manor for twelve or thirteen hours photographing everything and everybody in sight, when the Scientologists took up their modest kodaks, they found the feds to be extremely camera-shy. Patricia
Silverman, a church employee, described the raiders' violent reactions to grab shots of them or their activities:
"At about 7:20 a.m. I was standing in the lobby of the Manor Hotel with two other staff members of the Church; all three of us had cameras. When one of the other two raised his camera to photograph an agent who was standing nearby, the agent raised his hand as if to strike Robin and ordered him to put the camera away. Robin obeyed the command.
"At approximately 3 p.m. I was standing in the lobby of the Manor Hotel, photographing every FBI agent who entered the area. Three agents came in the door, one of whom, flanked by the other two, was holding a clipboard in front of his face, so he couldn't be photographed. I ran ahead of him and stood near the public elevator, when he lowered his clipboard and looked about, as if confused as to which way to go. I then took his picture while his face was exposed. When I snapped his picture, he immediately smashed his clipboard into my face, knocking the camera from my hands. The blow was quite forceful, and stunned me. I noticed that the agents that were on either side of the agent who struck the blow were now on either side of me and I was surrounded. I was afraid. The agent said that taking his picture was an assault on him, and he demanded my name. I apologized immediately, picked up my camera, and followed him to the elevator, asking his name. He replied that he 'didn't have one' and when asked if he had a number, replied 'no'.
"As a direct result of the assault and battery I felt ill for the following four days and by July 12 my illness increased to a point that I was confined to bed for five days. During that five-day confinement I lay in a semi-conscious state suffering a high fever, numerous aches and pains in my head and limbs, and a burning cough. Additionally, my gums became painfully swollen so that it was difficult to eat. Subsequently I lost about ten pounds in the following two weeks. In order to alleviate this apparently psychosomatic illness I was
forced to seek medical advice and received medication* I additionally sought relief in the form of pastoral counselling from a minister of my church. Although I am apparently physically recovered, the memory of the incident and my subsequent illness remains painfully persistent. I feel continually apprehensive and vaguely overwhelmed as a result of these incidents."
The raid on the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C. - carried out simultaneously with the two hits in Los Angeles -was another overkill. The incursion was conducted with the same disregard for Constitutional restraints. The agents employed unnecessary force, exceeded both the geographical and seizure parameters of the warrant; and ruthlessly violated the privacy of innocent church members who were not connected with the stated purposes of the search.
Of many examples, the following should answer all our requirements:
A few minutes before 9 a.m. (it was three hours earlier in Los Angeles), a lone FBI agent entered the Founding Church of Scientology at 2125 S Street, N.W., identified himself to the receptionist and said he had a warrant to search the place. He asked for Patsy Meisner, wife of Michael Meisner, former church executive whose statements the Government had cited as a basis for obtaining a search warrant.
The receptionist asked the agent to wait a moment while she went to see whether she could find someone to locate Patsy. She returned to her post a few minutes later, and informed the agent that they were trying to locate Mrs. Meisner. At that point, the G-man was joined by two others carrying tools to be used for forced entry. He directed them to go upstairs to the fourth floor. They were soon followed by six more men dressed in green coveralls and carrying sledge hammers, saws, drills and other paraphernalia for
violent entry into locked rooms, cabinets and desks.
All the invaders went directly up the front stairs and to the rear staircase, then to the rear landing of the fourth floor on which were situated the Guardian's Office, Service Bureau, Public Relations, Legal Office, and so on.
The only church employee who had arrived for work on that floor was Gregory Taylor, assistant director of public affairs. He had just seated himself at his desk to begin his day's work when he heard knocking at the door leading from the stair landing into the hallway along which the group of offices were ranged. The door was always kept locked and the people who worked on that floor each carried his own key. Visitors to the offices were announced by telephone from the reception area and met at the door by the person they wished to see.
As Taylor was not expecting a visitor, he ignored the knocking. However, when it grew more insistent and became a loud banging noise, he went to the door to investigate. Peering through a hole above the doorknob, where a lock had been removed, he found himself eyeball to eyeball with a keyholer peeping through from outside. He heard a voice on the opposite side of the door say:
"FBI. We have a search warrant. Let us in or we will break the door down."
Testifying in court after the raid, Taylor said: "I went back to my office and tried to call some of the people involved in security, which were located on a different floor, so they could come and talk to these people."
Nobody in security answered; but as soon as Taylor put down the phone, he received a call from another church official who told him that there were FBI agents at the hallway door and that he should let them in before they broke the door down. When Taylor came out of his office, however, he found that they had already smashed their way through the outer door and were in the hallway.
Very soon the ranks of the intruders had swelled to 25 agents. According to the sworn testimony of an eyewitness,
in less than a minute after they had errupted into the fourthfloor corridor, they rampaged down the passage, breaking into every office along the way.
For the next ten hours, they meticulously rifled church files, cabinets and desks, sifting through hundreds of confidential documents supposedly protected by the First Amendment.
When Kendrick Moxon, the church's legal officer, informed J.F. Higgins, FBI Agent in charge of the raid, that documents were being stolen, which were not listed in the search warrant, the head G-man replied:
"Look, I can't tell you what is in the minds of 20 other agents. Take it up with the court."
Among the legal documents seized by the raiders were files concerning Freedom of Information suits and other existent or planned litigation by the church against various agencies of the federal Government.
Also taken by FBI agent Joel Dean was a pleading filed in a $750,000 damage suit brought by Gregory Taylor against the FBI et al for false arrest and imprisonment.
The legal action was brought against the Government after Taylor was surrounded by 17 agents of the FBI and the IRS outside the church's nursery and falsely arrested in the alleged belief that he was another person. Despite the fact that Taylor at the time of his arrest was carrying 13 valid documents of identification - including a driver's licence, voter's registration, Veterans Administration I.D., Social Security card, Researchers I.D. for the National Archives, etc. - he was handcuffed and hauled off to jail in one of the seven unmarked cars that had been patrolling the area around the church.
Taylor was forced to spend the next 14 hours in jail. It was not until the following afternoon that he was released in the custody of his attorney, who had to accompany him later to the U. S. Attorney's office, where the Government finally admitted they had arrested the wrong man.
In view of this criminal blunder, it should take no one by
surprise that Taylor was reluctant to immediately admit the raiders banging on his door, without first checking with church security.
In a post-raid court hearing, when Agent Dean was asked to explain why he seized the Taylor pleading, he vouchsafed the following extraordinary rationale:
"The reason I chose this particular item to take during the search was that Gregory Taylor was present upon entering the fourth floor rear of Scientology [sic]. He was an individual who had access to that location. He was an individual, who I think - as I remember, I guess it was IRS, had arrested him, mistaking that he was a Mr. Wolfe. [The secret agents had actually mistaken him for Michael Meisner].
"This, indeed, showed that the Church of Scientology had an interest in him.
"The fact that he was on the premises in the area that secured papers were located, and that the church had an interest in him as an individual, it was my estimation that he could certainly have been a participant in the church's plan to obstruct justice in regard to the theft of Government property."
The Washington G-men reacted to the sight of a camera in the same way as their counterparts conducting the synchronized raids in California. Shortly before noon, an agent who emerged from the main door of the church Guardian Office, observed a staff member standing just outside holding a camera. The Scientologist was not trying to use the camera at the time, but was merely holding it by a strap at his side.
The agent swung at the camera, knocking the flash attachment to the floor. He then turned around and viciously kicked the unit against a nearby railing in an effort to smash it.
"What are you doing?" the Scientologist demanded.
"Nobody saw what happened," responded the agent. "You merely dropped your camera, that's all."
Acting under the purported authority of a search warrant which they interpreted to be limitless in scope, agents of the FBI conducted three synchronized raids on Churches of Scientology in Hollywood, California and Washington, D.C.
In their magnitude and brutality of execution, these incursions were unprecedented in American legal history. The federal detectives spent 21 hours at one location, 17 hours at another, and 10 hours at the third.
After scrutinising every piece of paper in the church files -including those protected by the First and Fourth Amendments - the agents seized and carted away 48,149 files, consisting of 100,124 pages. Two thirds of this staggering haul was later found to be innocuous - that is, outside the warrant, as they held no criminal connotation. They did, however, provide the FBI and, quite likely, other Government agencies with a tremendous amount of confidential information which could be used against the church in other litigation.
To appreciate the enormity of these raids, they must be measured against the offenses alleged by the Government to justify them. What were the crimes committed by the Scientologists, so monstrous that they called for the gross trampling of the Constitution, for the most brutal search and seizure operation in the whole, disgraceful history of the FBI?
Well, first there was the charge that the defendants had located and obtained illegally "information and documents in possession of the United States." What kind of documents - top secret plans of the neutron bomb? Sensitive papers of state, vital to the national interest? High-level Pentagon files, the disclosure of which might jeopardise this nation's safety?
No, nothing remotely like that. The allegedly purloined records "were related to Scientology and to individuals, organizations and agencies perceived to be enemies of Scientology."
In other words, they were, for the most part, the dossiers, false reports, letters, and memoranda about the Church of Scientology and its members, which agencies of the U.S. Government had been compiling over the past 25 years. Employing falsehoods and obstructive tactics, the federal agencies had circumvented the lawful disclosure of these records as required by the Freedom of Information and the Privacy Acts.
The indictment states - and the Grand Jury was apparently told -that the defendants had actually stolen the documents and converted them to their own use. Later, in court, the U.S. Attorney admitted that the Scientologists had removed the files, xeroxed them and then returned them to their respective places. The original documents were not taken.
The technical discrepancy provoked some agile legal acrobatics by the prosecution.
The Government's dilemma was that theft required permanently depriving the owner of his right to possession. The indictment, however, could not allege that something was permanently taken because the originals of the documents in question had been returned after the defendants had made photocopies of them. As Judge Charles R. Richey observed:
"First, there is clear precedent that the copying of any document does not constitute conversion. Second, whereas there are penalties for copyright violations, the Congress has explicitly provided that there is no copyright on Government documents. "
But wait. In the law, there is always a dodge, a contrivance, an extrication clause, if you are clever enough to find it. The prosecution found it in the case of United States v. Digilio, in which the high court had ruled that using Government-owned resources to copy Government documents makes the duplicate copies Government property and "things of value" within the requirements of the statute.
Since the Scientologists had used the Government copy machines and paper to copy the documents, they were guilty
of theft because, said Judge Richey, "Government-owned copies were taken with the intent to deprive the owner of possession."
it is precisely this kind of tortured logic and sly deductive reasoning by the courts that has made the ordinary man contemptuous of the law and those who administer it.
Under the doctrine of stare decisis (the theory that any case ought to be decided in the same way as a similar one preceeding it), an idiotic finding by a biased or appelate court becomes binding on judges trying similar cases ever afterward.
Lawyers and judges, who are fully committed to the system, find it difficult to understand that the delimited, closed-circuit arguments of the courtroom do not prevail at the bar of public opinion, where common sense is the judge, and the verdict is "what a reasonable man would think just."
Laymen, for their part, are baffled by a system of justice that does not equate justice with truth, but with skill in the forensic arts. The final score in a legal ballgame depends upon which team has the best players. The actual guilt or innocence of the accused has very little to do with it. It's the rules of the game that count. As one legal observer in Chicago recently commented: "If justice results from the sys tem, it is purely incidental." U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey said as much from the bench during the Scientology hearings:
"Now this is not directed at you," he told the lawyers representing both sides in the litigation; "it is directed at the whole bar all across the United States. I am so upset about this. Distinguished people, with all respect, keep talking about criminal justice, the criminal justice system being or, the whole process: civil law and criminal law, but they seem to direct it at the criminal justice system - being a search for the truth. That is pure bunk; absolute, pure bunk.
"It is only a quest for justice; it is not a quest for the truth. It is whether the Government can prove each and every element of the crimes alleged beyond a reasonable doubt. If
they can't, that person can be 'guilty as the devil/ but that is just our system, and that is the genius of our system. It can work either way."
The non-legal mind will continue to view justice as judgment based upon truth - that is, upon accurate knowledge of the circumstances and events of a case, rather than upon the most convincing argument of counsel or prosecutor, even though that argument is specious.
Counts one through twenty-three of the Government's indictment charge the defendants with conspiracy and with various offenses in furtherance of that conspiracy. And what were the means and objectives of that alleged conspiracy? What had the Scientologists conspired to do - bomb the White House, steal atomic secrets and deliver them to the Russians?
No, no; nothing like that. They had conspired "to collect, by covert means, data relating to the Church of Scientology, its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and other church members, which was in the possession of the United States Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury's Internal Revenue Service, and the Office of the United States Attorney for the Districts of Columbia."
Conspiracy, as Supreme Court justice Jackson once judicially noted, is a crime "so vague that it almost defies definition. Despite certain elementary and essential elements, it also, chameleon-like, takes on a special coloration from each of the many independent offenses [more than a score of them in the Scientology indictment] on which it may be overlaid. It is always 'predominently mental in composition' because it consists of a meeting of the minds and an intent.
"The crime comes down to us wrapped in vague but unpleasant connotations. It sounds historical undertones of treachery, secret plotting and violence on a scale that menaces social stability and the security of the state it-
self. . ."
Such a charge conformed admirably to the objective of the Government, however, because it was "a virtually openended proposition," and provided the FBI agents a pretext to search at will for evidence - "no matter how trivial or manifestly innocuous" (judge Bryant) - that might be linked to the alleged conspiracy.
In a word, it was the strategem by which the Department of justice could obtain a general warrant.
It would also serve the prosecution later in court, for, as Chief U.S. District Judge William J. Bryant was to observe: "the rules of evidence that pertain to it are loose and pliable as well ... Evidence of conspiracy could also include evidence of any action taken by one of the accused confederates. "
The defendants were also accused of bugging a meeting of agents and employees of the IRS, who had gathered in the IRS Washington headquarters in 1974 to assess the current status of that agency's continuing war against Scientology. The indictment specifically charges that three of the defendants (identified as Scientology "agents") "placed an electronic listening device in an IRS conference room and recorded an IRS meeting concerning Scientology's application for tax exempt status and related matters." (Emphasis added.) The IRS indignation at this alleged electronic intrusion into their closed-door discussion has a hollow ring when one recalls the agency's own disgraceful activities in the field of illegal eavesdropping and espionage.
The agency's nationwide operations were on a grand scale that make the Scientologists' petty encroachment pale indeed by comparison.
Several years ago, a Senate hearing produced dismaying evidence that the Internal Revenue Service had installed hidden microphones and one-way mirrors in IRS conference
rooms all across the nation. These were used illegally to monitor the privileged conversations between taxpayers and their attorneys or financial counselors, and to entrap them if possible.
IRS agents admitted under oath that they had engaged in widespread wiretapping without a warrant; and had planted bugs in citizens' homes, cars and places of employment. Not one of these agents was ever indicted or brought to justice for his criminal acts.
With these facts apparently in mind, Mike Cleveland, writer for the Passaic, N.J. Herald-News, admonished the Scientologists:
"Never usurp the prerogatives of Government."
When all the legal dust settles, then, we have the Scientologists accused of four principal offenses: petit larceny of Governmentowned xerox paper; illegal entry into federal offices, i.e., trespass; the vague crime of conspiracy; and electronic eavesdropping.
Even if the defendants were guilty of every one of these breaches of the law, we still have a mixed bag of rather small potatoes. Viewing them in their proper perspective, it is reasonable to ask: How could the comparatively minor, run-of-the-mill offences, cited in the indictment, conceivably necessitate the marshalling of 175 FBI agents from all over the U.S. to conduct the most massive search and seizure in the Government's history?
Even the most stupid could sense that there was something rotten in Denmark.
It was not necessary to suffer the boredom of the prolix legal proceedings which followed - the tedious arguments, the petty bickering amongst opposing counsel, the silly banter and pedantic lectures from the bench - in order to grasp the real significance of the raids.
One had only to call to mind the following facts: For more
than 20 years the Church of Scientology had been a thorn in the side of Big Government. Scientologists had exposed corruption in high places, and had fought a running legal battle with virtually every agency of the federal power complex. At the time of the FBI incursions, the church had filed a $750 million suit against the Government for illegal harrassment of its religious activities. Both the FBI and the CIA were among the agencies named as defendants in the suit. Freedom of Information suits were also pending against a number of federal agencies and bureaus.
A Justice Department official had told a Scientologist that his church was "the most hated group" among those with which the federal prosecutors were concerned.
justice had been trying unsuccessfully "to get something on the Scientologists" ever since 1958. With the case against the church provided by the lapsed Scientologist, Mike Meisner, the prosecutors thought they saw an opportunity to deliver a final and fatal blow to the controversial "cult."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry Schuelke III, who accompanied the raid on the Cedars complex, told the Scientologists:
"I am the Government's summary executioner."
James J. Kilpatrick, nationally syndicated columnist, saw the light very clearly. He wrote:
"What troubles me in this affair is the sheer, crushing power that our Government can bring to bear when it chooses. Even if the Scientologists prevail in the end, they will have been put to stunning legal expenses. Their normal operations will have been disrupted for months. And all for what? Is the FBI's purpose prosecution or persecution?"
The short answer to that rhetorical question is, obviously: persecution.
Res ipsa loquitur - the thing speaks for itself.