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Some areas in government easy targets for spies

Title: Some areas in government easy targets for spies
Date: Sunday, 10 July 1977
Publisher: Prescott Courier (Arizona)
Main source:

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal officials say some parts of the government are remarkably easy targets for outside spies such as the Scientologists allegedly planted in government jobs to steal confidential files.

"If they're qualified for a job and there's no arrest record, they can sort of swoop right in," said Justice Department personnel officer.

Take the case of Gerald Wolfe. According to the FBI, the Church of Scientology planted Wolfe in a clerical job at the Internal Revenue Service so he could steal IRS documents on tax probes of the church.

The church also was accused of planting Sharon Thomas in a secretarial job at the Justice Department's tax division to steal files concerning investigations of the church and the government's strategy in fighting Scientologists' lawsuits.

Those cases were alleged in an FBI affidavit Friday to be part of a Scientology spy plot. The affidavit was made public as agents raided the church's two Los Angeles offices and its Washington office to recover hundreds of documents allegedly stolen from the government and to seize other evidence.

Church officials complained that the raids were "Gestapo" tactics to retaliate for church lawsuits against the FBI and virtually all other federal law enforcement agencies.

The church also claimed the raids were an FBI attempt to silence church officials in their efforts to publicize an alleged narcotics trafficking ring operated by Interpol officials with the tacit consent of high ranking U.S. and French authroities.

The FBI affidavit raises questions about various government agencies' vulnerability to outside spies.

The FBI affidavit alleged that Wolfe and Miss Thomas stole and copied hundreds of documents during more than a year on their jobs.

The FBI began investigating the matter only after Wolfe and his church supervisor, Michael Meisner, allegedly staged their fourth raid on the office of an assistant U.S. attorney.

A building guard summoned FBI agents after he became suspicious of the IRS credentials the two allegedly had used to gain access to the office after working hours, the affidavit said.

But investigators apparently had little, if any, evidence of the wide-ranging infiltration plot alleged in the affidavit until Meisner allegedly renounced the church, escaped from Scientology leaders holding him under "house arrest" in Los Angeles, and returned to Washington to cooperate in the probe.

Federal officials claim that infiltration by employes covertly gathering information for some outside group is unusual.

The Justice Department personnel officer said he sees no need for changes in the screening procedure because of "the rarity of this situation occurring."