THE SEA ORGANIZATION 1966-1976
Scientology at Sea
Scientology thrives on a climate of ignorance and indifference.
- KENNETH ROBINSON, British Minister for Health
The new Guardian took orders only from the Executive Director of the Church of Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard was appointing a deputy. He kept the new position in the family: Mary Sue Hubbard was the first Guardian, later becoming the "Controller," a post created between the Executive Director and the Guardian. 1
Among the duties of the Guardian was the "LRH Heavy Hussars Hat" (a misnomer, as Hussars were light cavalry). "Hat" was Hubbard's usual term for "job." The Guardian's Office (or "GO") would deal with any "threat of great importance" to Scientology. The tenure of executives in Scientology organizations is usually brief; the Guardian is one of the few exceptions. Jane Kember, Mary Sue's successor, held the position for thirteen years. Mary Sue was her superior, as Controller, throughout that time.
The Guardian's Office was responsible for responding to any attack on Scientology. An "attack" might simply be a quizzical newspaper article. The GO is well remembered in London, where the press is still reticent about Scientology stories. The "Legal Bureau" of the GO issued hundreds of court writs, itself losing count. 2 The GO dealt with public relations, legal actions, and the gathering of "intelligence." It conducted campaigns against psychiatry, Interpol, the Internal Revenue Service, drug abuse, and government secrecy, largely under the heading "Social Coordination," or "SOCO."
The GO campaign against the tax authorities was not altogether altruistic. On April 30, 1966, the Hubbard Communications Office Ltd. filed its annual accounts with the Inland Revenue in Great Britain. Sir John Foster later commented in his government report: "According to the last set of accounts filed for HCO Ltd., that company seems to have been conducting an unsuccessful garage business [Hickstead Garage]. The auditor's [accountant's] certificate is heavily qualified: various documents could not be traced, vehicles had vanished, 'the sales figure in the trading account cannot be regarded as anywhere near accurate' [according to the Scientology accountant], and there had been litigation with a manager who went bankrupt. The company ended up owing Mr. Hubbard £1,356."
The man who was owed this sum was absent from Saint Hill for a large part of 1966. Most of that time was spent in Rhodesia. Hubbard quietly assured his lieutenants that he had been Cecil Rhodes in his last lifetime (right, wearing Rhodes' favourite type of hat), so he saw his visit to Rhodesia as a homecoming.
Hubbard went into business in Rhodesia, putting up part of the purchase money for the Bumi Hills resort hotel on Lake Kariba. He also hob-nobbed with the social elite. He appeared on television, telling the audience he was no longer active in Scientology, and had become a permanent resident of Salisbury. He must have been dismayed when that permanence crumbled with the Rhodesian refusal to renew his visa. He put a brave face on it, returning to England in July, to be met at the airport by hundreds of cheering Scientologists. 3
In Rhodesia, Hubbard had prepared the first two Operating Thetan levels. After attaining the state of Clear, Scientologists could now progress toward "total freedom" through the OT levels. Hubbard asserted that an Operating Thetan is capable of operating, of perceiving and causing events, while separate from his body. By doing the OT levels an individual would supposedly liberate latent psychic abilities. From 1952, Hubbard continually insisted that the latest techniques would bring about the state of "full OT."
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service was less interested in Hubbard's spiritual motivation than in the mounting evidence of his financial motivation. At the end of July, the IRS notified the Church of Scientology of California that its tax-exempt status was being withdrawn, giving three reasons: Scientology practitioners were making money from the "non-profit" Church; the Church's activities were commercial; and the Church was serving the private interests of L. Ron Hubbard. 4
Hubbard's thoughts were elsewhere, and in a flight of fantasy, he proclaimed John McMaster the first "Pope" of Scientology in August 1966. The title did not endure. 5
It seemed that McMaster was to be Hubbard's public successor. In fact, he was simply an emissary with little real power in the organization. Hubbard maintained the charade of handing over responsibility by resigning as President and Executive Director of the Church. His resignation was announced to Scientologists, but was not actually filed with the Registrar of companies in England for three years. It was yet another public relations gesture. Hubbard still controlled the bank accounts, and still held the undated resignations of the board members of his many corporations. He still wrote the Policy of the Church, and issued his orders via written Executive Directives. Indeed, the post of Executive Director remained vacant until 1981, when Hubbard finally appointed a replacement. Hubbard retained the day-to-day control of his empire of Orgs. 6
Early in 1966, the LRH Finance Committee had been established to determine how much the Church owed Hubbard. In September, Hubbard told the press he had forgiven the Church a $13 million debt. The LRH Finance Committee had however failed to document the millions Hubbard had taken out of the Church. The Committee had appraised Saint Hill as having a business goodwill value of £2 million (the estate itself was valued at less than £100,000). The Committee also included such items as the purchase price of the yacht used by Hubbard for his Alaska trip in 1940. All part of the Hubbard's "research," from which the Church purportedly benefited. 7
In August 1966, the Henslow case exploded into the British newspapers. Karen Henslow was a schizophrenic who had been institutionalized before her contact with Scientology. She had fallen in love with a Scientologist, who promised to marry her. Henslow had worked at Saint Hill, and taken a Scientology course. Then one night she was "Security-Checked" into the small hours, and deposited at her mother's house. She ran into the street in her nightclothes, and ended up at the police station at 3.00 a.m., in a highly distressed state. 8
Hubbard responded to the Henslow scandal by approving a more thorough set of instructions for his tactic of "Noisy Investigation." A list was to be made of everyone associated with a perceived enemy. This was to include their dentist and doctor, along with their friends and neighbors. All of the people on the list were to be phoned and told that the perceived enemy was under investigation for the commission of crimes, having attacked the religious liberty of the caller. The person being called was to be told that alarming information had already been gathered. The primary purpose of this technique was not to collect information, but to spread suspicion about the perceived enemy.
This directive was followed by a Hubbard Bulletin called "The Anti-Social Personality, the Anti-Scientologist" (the two being one and the same). Hubbard restated his earlier theory that twenty percent of the population (the Suppressives and those under their influence, the Potential Trouble Sources, combined) "oppose violently any betterment activity or group." He asserted that "When we trace the cause of a failing business, we will inevitably discover somewhere in its ranks the antisocial personality hard at work."
In fact, the cause of all disaster at work or at home, according to Hubbard, lies with Suppressive Persons. They are characterized by a majority of the following traits and attributes. According to Hubbard, SPs speak in generalities ("everybody knows"); deal mainly in bad news; worsen communication they are relaying; fail to respond to psychotherapy (i.e. Scientology); are surrounded by "cowed or ill associates or friends"; habitually select the wrong target, or source; are unable to finish anything; willingly confess to alarming crimes, without any sense of responsibility for them; support only destructive groups; approve only destructive actions; detest help being given to others, and use "helping" as a pretext to destroy others; and believe that no one really owns anything.
These points are Hubbard's reworkings of the characteristics of the Antisocial Personality, or psychopath, given by Hervey Cleckley, M.D., in his 1950s book The Mask of Sanity.
Having failed to secure a "safe-point" in Rhodesia from which to resist the encroachments of the Suppressives, Hubbard planned to take to the High Seas. At the end of 1966, he incorporated the Hubbard Explorational Company Ltd. He titled himself the "expedition supervisor," holding ninety-seven of the 100 issued shares. The stated object of the HEC was to "explore oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and waters, land and buildings in any part of the world and to seek for, survey, examine and test properties of all kinds." 9
Hubbard was still a member of the Explorers' Club of New York, and was authorized to fly their flag on his proposed Hubbard Geological Survey Expedition, which was going to make a geological survey of "a belt from Italy through Greece and Egypt and along the Gulf of Aden and the East Coast of Africa." The survey was intended to "draw a picture of an area which has been the scene of the earlier and basic civilizations of the planet and from which some conclusions may possibly be made relating to geological predispositions required for civilized growth." 10 The expedition never took place. Hubbard was good at promoting expeditions, even at inventing their details, but not so good at actually carrying them out.
Having given his last Saint Hill Briefing Course lecture, Hubbard left for North Africa at the end of 1966. On December 5, British Health Minister Kenneth Robinson denied that an Inquiry was necessary, but denounced Scientology as "potentially harmful," adding "I have no doubt that Scientology is totally valueless in promoting health." Hubbard responded in usual form with a twenty-page internal memo, asserting that the crimes of government would prove far more interesting to the newspapers than those of Scientology. Hubbard believed that events could be turned against the representatives of government, putting them into the courtroom rather than Scientology. He wanted nothing short of Kenneth Robinson and Lord Balniel's resignations. The emphases of the attack were to be religious persecution and psychiatric mayhem. Scientology's opponents were simply dismissed as fascists. 11
Neither Robinson nor Balniel resigned their government positions, nor were any psychiatrists stampeded. However, on February 28, 1967, every Member of Parliament received a letter from the Hubbard College of Scientology. The letter spoke of the Karen Henslow case of a few months before: "This unhappy story gave the newspapers and others of a lurid turn of mind the opportunity to further their vehement attack against us with libel and slander. And so the pattern repeats itself, the well worn pattern.'' 12
The letter went on to ask who was "behind this pattern of attack," and after discoursing on Scientologists' friendly relations with medicine in general, concluded with an attack on psychiatry in particular, adding, "Like the Russian authorities, we believe that brain surgery is an assault and rape of the individual personality."
The letter inevitably created an effect, but not necessarily that expected by its author. Hubbard's public relations "technology" only succeeded in bringing the boiling oil down upon Scientology. On March 6, 1967, Kenneth Robinson made a further statement about Scientology in the House of Commons:
I do not want to give the impression that there is anything illegal in the offering by unskilled people of processes intended in part to relieve or remove mental disturbance . . . provided that no claim is made of qualified medical skill .... What they do, however, is to direct themselves deliberately towards the weak, the unbalanced, the immature, the rootless and the mentally or emotionally unstable; to promise them remolded, mature personalities and to set about fulfilling the promise by means of untrained staff, ignorantly practicing quasi-psychological techniques, including hypnosis...
I am satisfied that the condition of mentally disturbed people who have taken scientology courses has, to say the least, not generally improved thereby .... My present decision on legislation may disappoint the honorable Members, but I would like to remind them that the harsh light of publicity can sometimes work almost as effectively. Scientology thrives on a climate of ignorance and indifference ....
What I have tried to do in this debate is to alert the public to the facts about scientology, to the potential dangers in which anyone considering taking it up may find himself, and to the utter hollowness of the claims made for the cult.
Meanwhile, Hubbard added "Degraded Beings" to Suppressives and Potential Trouble Sources. While the latter two groups comprised only one in five of the world's population, "Degraded Beings" outnumbered "Big Beings" by eighteen to one. 13 In Hubbard's eyes, Kenneth Robinson was undoubtedly not only a Suppressive Person, but also a Degraded Being.
Business was still fair, and the Scientology Church in Britain showed a total income of £457,277 for the year ending April 1967 (an average of almost £9,000 per week). Hubbard gave the following instructions to his subordinates a few months later:
The real stable datum in handling tax people is NEVER VOLUNTEER ANY INFORMATION .... The thing to do is to assign a significance to the figures before the government can .... I normally think of a better significance than the government can. l always put enough errors on a return to satisfy their bloodsucking appetite and STILL come out zero. The game of accounting is just a game of assigning significance to figures. The man with the most imagination wins. 14
True to these maxims, the 1966-1967 accounts contained several creative designations for expenditure. Directors' fees stood at only £2,914, but £39,426 was justified as "provision for bad debts," and an astonishing £70,000 as "expenditure of United States Mailing List and Promotion." The previous year, £80,000 had been charged under this heading. In 1967-1968 the figure was again £70,000.
British action against Scientology was growing. The Ministry of Labour reported that a hundred American teachers of Scientology were to be banned from Britain. In a dramatic move, 500 Scientologists were interviewed by the police as they arrived at Saint Hill. This fiasco resulted in one American being fined £15 for failing to register as an alien, occasioning UFO cartoons in the newspapers. 15
Hubbard had spent the last weeks of 1966 "researching" OT3 in North Africa. In a letter of the time, he admitted that he was taking drugs ("pinks and grays") to assist his research. 16 Early in 1967, Hubbard flew to Las Palmas, and Virginia Downsborough (right), who cared for him after his arrival, was astonished that he was existing almost totally on a diet of drugs. For three weeks Hubbard was bedridden, while Downsborough weaned him off this diet. According to her, he was obsessed with removing his "body-thetans." 17
The Enchanter, a 50-foot Bermuda ketch, sailed to meet him in Las Palmas. Her dedicated Scientologist crew of nineteen were known as the Sea Project. Their formation and their departure from England were highly secretive. The Hubbard Explorational Company started to draw $15,000 per month from the Church of Scientology of California. The Church also paid $125,000 into one of Hubbard's Swiss accounts. 18
From Las Palmas, having just forgiven Scientology $13 million, Hubbard issued orders that every Org set up an "LRH Good Will Repayment Account" at their local bank. Executives who failed to set up such an account would be dismissed as thieves. Hubbard also ordered the Church of Scientology to buy Saint Hill from him. 19
As the British Health Minister had predicted, the "harsh light of publicity" had done its work, and Scientology had been propelled into the public eye. By August, Saint Hill was taking in as much as £40,000 a week, almost five times its income of the previous year. 20
1. Organization Executive Course, vol. 7 pp. 494ff & 503.
2. East Grinstead Courier, 12 August 1983.
3. Foster report, para 32; Evans, pp.85-6; Malko, p.82; Hubbard taped lecture, "About Rhodesia," 18 July 1966.
4. Church of Scientology of California vs. IRS, 24 September 1984 judgment, p.35.
5. Interview, OR, former Sea Org executive; interview, McMaster.
6. Organization Executive Course, vol. 7 p. 579
7. Interview, OR; Laurie Sullivan in vol 19. pp. 3222-3 of transcript of Church of Scientology of California vs. Gerald Armstrong, Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles, case no. C 420153.
8. C.H. Rolph, Believe What You Like (André Deutsch, London 1973), pp.39 & 85; News of the World, 28 July 1968; Wallis, p.194; Evans, p.88; Cooper, p.61; interview with witness
9. Foster report, para 73.
10. Letter from the Explorers Club to John Fudge, 8 December 1966.
11. Exhibit 500-6H, vol. 13, p. 2036-42, Armstrong
12. Rolph, pp.39f
13. Technical Bulletins of Dianetics & Scientology, vol. 6, p.193
14. Organization Executive Course, vol. 3 p. 63
15. Daily Sketch, 11 March 1967.
16. Interview with Gerald Armstrong, East Grinstead, June 1984.
17. Interview with Virginia Downsborough, Santa Barbara, October 1986.
18. Modern Management Technology Defined, Hubbard, p.72; Clearwater Sun, 7 February 1986; interview, OR; vol 12, p.2021, exhibit 500-5Z, Armstrong.
19. Vol. 12, pp.1997-8, 16, p.2616, exhibit 500-5E, Armstrong.
20. Interview, OR, former Sea Org executive.