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A classic example of the fair game policy at work

(Gerry Armstrong is my friend now that we are both out of Scientology, and I have already told him this story. I have told him how sorry I am for my part in trying to destroy him when I was still an OSA staff member. I’ve told several other people this story as well, and they have urged me to share it because it is such a classic illustration of how far DM and his cronies are willing to go to destroy their enemies.)

I was the managing editor of FREEDOM Magazine in the Spring of 1985, when Julie Christoffersson’s lawsuit against the Church of Scientology was being retried. I was also the main writer for the Office of Special Affairs, meaning that when DM needed something special written, he called on me.

Julie Christoffersson had named Gerry Armstrong as a witness in her trial. DM wanted to discredit Gerry because he was extremely concerned about the information Gerry had. Gerry had been the LRH Archivist up until the end of 1981, and as such he had had access to all of LRH’s personal papers. These included documents which, I know from my own viewing of them at the beginning of 1982, provide incontrovertible evidence that LRH suffered from clinical paranoid schizophrenia and manic depression from a very early age.

There were letters to his parents in which he exhibited wildly delusional paranoia. There was a document, known during Gerry’s trial as "Affirmations," in which LRH clearly revealed himself to have delusions of grandeur. There was another document, nicknamed "Blood Ritual," in which LRH described in grisly detail various methods of horrific sexual torture which he wanted to inflict on his second wife, Sara, whom he had met when he was heavily involved in black magic.

Gerry had been the first person in Scientology to see all of these documents. He was critiquing many of the "About the Author" sections in the LRH books and comparing the information in them to the documents he had in the archives. In the fall of 1981 Norman Starkey, then directly under DM in Special Project, which would soon become Author Services, Inc., received a report that the information that was being published about LRH’s life by Scientology was false, according to the documents in the archives. It was clear that some of the documents (such as Blood Ritual) could present public relations problems if they were ever made public.

When Norman received this report he immediately ordered Gerry in for security checking more, since he was obviously disaffected and clearly critical of LRH, which of course meant that he had overts and withholds against LRH which needed to be "pulled." Gerry got into such serious ethics trouble, in fact, that it made him realize how deeply he had been defrauded by LRH and Scientology.

Gerry was working at the time with Omar Garrison, a writer who had been hired to write a biography of LRH. Gerry had been systematically making copies of all the archives materials and taking the copies to Omar for his biography research. By the time he blew in November 1981, Gerry had photocopied the entire archive for Omar.

DM, Norman Starkey, Lyman Spurlock, Terri Gamboa, Vaughn and I all tried to get Gerry to come back to Scientology and also to return the copies of the archives materials. When it became apparent that Gerry was not going to do either, and it became known that he had sent LRH’s documents to anti-Scientology attorney Michael Flynn, DM had the Church of Scientology of California file suit against Gerry for theft of the documents. Because it looked like CSC might lack standing, DM arranged for Mary Sue to intervene in the suit, because she had the strongest claim on LRH’s personal papers, since she was his wife.

I was part of the Gerry Armstrong Dead Agent Unit — the GA DA Unit for short. Vaughn, myself, Andy Lenarcic, Ann Lenarcic, and a few others worked round the clock to come up with evidence that would prove Armstrong was a "shoddy researcher" and therefore was wrong in saying that the information being published by the church about LRH was false.

We did everything we could to find evidence to back up claims LRH had made about himself. We looked high and low for proof that on a shakedown cruise of the PC 815 during World War II, LRH really had sunk a submarine off the coast of Oregon in 1942, for example. The evidence just did not exist. We tried to find evidence that he had really graduated from George Washington University and that he had studied nuclear physics at Princeton. It just wasn’t true. We tried to prove that he had been on an intelligence mission to break up Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templer Orientis (OTO) when he went to Pasadena in 1946 and began dabbling in black magic. There just wasn’t any evidence.

CSC’s and Mary Sue’s case against Gerry was tried by Judge Paul Breckinridge in the Spring of 1984. Michael Flynn was Gerry’s attorney. He is a brilliant lawyer, and he ate Mary Sue and the church for breakfast during that trial. Flynn’s defense of Gerry was to show that Gerry had taken copies of the documents knowing he would have to defend himself against the church’s fair game tactics, the point being that he needed the documents to prove that the church was lying.

Flynn was so successful in his defense of Gerry that Judge Breckinridge issued a now-famous decision in which he labeled L. Ron Hubbard a paranoid schizophrenic and called the Church of Scientology an alter-ego of Hubbard’s insanity. Scientology was able to get the documents sealed, and they remained sealed until the case settled in 1986 (at which time they were returned to Scientology), but Gerry dealt a crushing blow to LRH’s credibility during that trial. Needless to say, Gerry Armstrong became one of Scientology’s most hated enemies from that time on.

Then in the summer of 1984, Gerry testified in a child custody case in London, the Latey case, which also resulted in a devastating decision against Scientology. So DM was determined to discredit Gerry so that he would be useless in any future litigation.

DM ordered an intelligence sting operation against Gerry. Gene Ingram got an LAPD officer, Phillip Rodriguez, to sign off on a bogus authorization to wiretap or videotape Gerry secretly. It was not actually authorized by the LAPD and Rodriguez later got in trouble for it. Then Mike Rinder and Dave Kluge (one of OSA’s intelligence operatives at the time) both set up meetings with Gerry Armstrong, pretending to be disaffected Scientologists who were considering going to the authorities with incriminating information about the church. Mike’s role was important because he was a high-level management staff member whom Gerry knew very well. He met with Gerry and basically said he was extremely dissatisfied with the way the church was being run and wondered if Gerry could hook him up with anyone in the IRS or FBI. Gerry had, in fact, been contacted by investigators from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, because at that time the IRS was seriously investigating LRH and Scientology for criminal fraud. So Gerry gave Mike the names of the agents he had spoken to.

But DM wanted more than this. DM wanted evidence that Gerry was a paid informant of the IRS, because this would show the judge that Gerry’s testimony was tainted. The only problem was, Gerry wasn’t a paid informant. So no matter how Rinder and Kluge asked their questions, they couldn’t get Gerry on videotape saying he was being paid to attack the church. Rinder and Kluge asked him all kinds of leading questions, trying in every way possible to get Gerry to say what they had been ordered to get him to say. But to no avail.

So DM called me in and ordered me to edit the transcripts of the videotapes to make it look like Gerry was admitting to being a paid informant, even though he never had admitted any such thing. I was to edit out Rinder’s and Kluge’s leading questions so it looked like Gerry was volunteering information, when in fact all he was really doing was answering a hypothetical question that had been posed to him.

I went through the transcripts and pulled the "best" parts I could find, doing my best to comply with DM’s orders to make Gerry look like a paid informant. Privately I thought it was obvious, even after the editing, that Gerry was being set up, but I dutifully turned in my doctored transcript to DM, who then turned it over to Ted Horner, a Gold staff member in charge of film editing, to use my edited transcript to do the final edit on the videotapes.

Then I went back to editing FREEDOM Magazine and my other normal duties and thought no more about it.

One night about a month later I was called over to the OSA Int conference room along with several other key OSA US staff. DM and Norman were both there, looking extremely morose. DM told us that they had taken the videotape into court and demanded to show it to the judge, saying it would prove conclusively that Gerry Armstrong was a paid liar. The judge agreed to see the videotape in camera (meaning in his chambers, not in open court). But the judge did not have the reaction DM and the others had expected. After seeing the videotape, the judge was enraged and told the Scientologists, "I have heard about these dirty tactics that you use against your perceived enemies, but now that I have seen it for myself I think you are much, much worse than I had ever imagined!" And kicked them out of his chambers.

Now, you have to understand that in Scientology the "wilful suspension of disbelief" is a way of life, so much so that no one, from DM on down, ever admits for even a moment that everything that happens in there is nothing more than play-acting. Everyone is so good at it that they fool themselves into thinking they really believe what they’re pretending.

So it was with the GA videotapes. When DM ordered me to doctor the tapes he never for a moment acted like he actually knew that he was ordering me to doctor them. With a straight face he ordered me to edit the tapes to take out all the irrelevant bits so it would be a concise record of Gerry’s confession that he was an informant. And when I edited them that was truly what I told myself I was doing. Everyone joined in the delusion that we were simply tightening up the videotape.

And when DM told us about the judge’s reaction, he managed to sound absolutely convinced that the reason the judge had reacted that way was that the judge was biased against Scientology. DM put on a very convincing show of being totally outraged at the judge’s reaction. Now, looking back on the experience, I think it is possible that DM really is that deluded. I also think it’s entirely possible that DM and the others at the very top know exactly what they are doing and are simply manipulating all of the lower level staff into doing their dirty work for them. To this day I’m not really sure which it is.

I know that for myself, there was a part of me that wasn’t surprised at all at the judge’s reaction. In fact, there was a part of me that, even that night as I listened to DM’s performance, wondered it he was really that delusional.

But that part of me was buried deep beneath my Scientology persona. Certainly I would never have voiced such thoughts. I just wanted to do what I was ordered to do as quickly as possible so I could get some sleep and have maybe a few minutes of privacy. That was all I cared about back then.

DM ordered me and the rest of the FREEDOM staff to turn the edited GA videotape transcripts into a special edition of FREEDOM. If the judge wouldn’t listen, then we would take the issue to the people of Portland! That was what DM said.

So Andy Lenarcic, Tom Whittle and I spent the next several days putting together the copy for this special edition of FREEDOM. When it was completed I had to fly up to Portland and personally present the manuscript to DM for his approval. I stood there in his condominium watching him read, hoping he would approve it the first time through so I wouldn’t have to fly back up with a revised version. To my great relief, he signed off his approval and I was permitted to fly back to Los Angeles.

I was then responsible for getting two million copies of that special edition of FREEDOM printed and distributed to every doorstep in Portland, Oregon. Jonathan Epstein, Finance Chief Int at the time, was the one who pulled the money out of various corporations, including CSI, IAS, CS WUS and several other local outer org accounts, to pay for this monstrous, ridiculous, useless project.

I doubt anyone in Portland ever read the damn special edition. I certainly wouldn’t have if I’d found it on my doorstep. It certainly didn’t help Scientology win the Christo case, either. When the $30 million judgment came down DM ordered every Scientologist on the planet up to Portland for the now-famous Religious Freedom Crusade, in which thousands of Scientologists marched through the streets of Portland demanding that the judge reverse the jury’s decision in the Christo case.

I have no idea what other pressure was brought to bear on that judge behind the scenes. All I know is that DM’s strategy worked. The judge finally declared a mistrial in the Christoffersson trial, which served to confirm for DM and Scientologists all over the world that if you use enough force and intimidation you can get whatever you want.