The Flag Land Base

In August 1975, the Apollo returned to Curaçao. The Scientologists allege that an Interpol agent had given the report of the 1965 Australian Enquiry (the Anderson Report) to local newspapers and officials, and that Henry Kissinger had sent an unfavourable memo to most of the United States embassies in the Caribbean. The Dutch Prime Minister demanded that the "ship of fools" be ejected from Curaçao. So in October the Apollo was once again ordered out of port. 1

She sailed to the Bahamas. The crew was divided into three parties, and Scientology moved its headquarters back to shore, in the United States. Two groups established management outposts in New York and Washington, DC, and the third, including Hubbard, flew to Daytona, Florida. Hubbard lectured to a handpicked team of Sea Org members on his "New Vitality Rundown." 2 The Apollo lay at anchor in the Bahamas.

Maintaining its usual secrecy, the Church of Scientology started to buy property in Clearwater, Florida. The town's name was obviously too much of a temptation to Hubbard, and he personally directed the project through his Guardian' s Office. In October, a front corporation, Southern Land Development and Leasing, agreed to purchase the 272-room Fort Harrison hotel for $2.3 million. The owners' attorney said it was one of the strangest transactions he had ever dealt with. He did not even have Southern Land Development's phone number. 3

In November, Southern Land added the Bank of Clearwater building to its holdings for $550,000. A spokesman kept up the pretense, by announcing that the properties had been purchased for the United Churches of Florida. He pledged openness. No connection to Scientology was mentioned. The residents of Clearwater had no idea that their town was being systematically invaded. This organization which promised the world a "road to truth" was still treading its own back alley of duplicity and subterfuge.

The Guardian's Office was already preparing detailed reports on Clearwater, and its occupants and "opinion leaders." On November 26, Hubbard sent a secret order to the three principal officers of the Guardian's Office. It was called "Program LRH Security. Code Name: Power."

The entire Guardian's Office was put on alert, so that any hint of government or judicial action concerning Hubbard would be discovered early enough to spirit him away from potential subpoena or arrest. As Hubbard was staying near to Clearwater, security there was to be especially tight.

Despite contrary representations to Scientologists and the world at large, Hubbard was still very much in control of his Church. He said as much in an order to the head of the U.S. GO, complaining that he was not only having to direct the entire Church, but also the Guardian's Office. In the same order, Hubbard laid out strict security arrangements for his own proposed visits to the new Scientology properties in Clearwater. He explained that he wanted to become a celebrity in the area, as a photographer, and that his picture of the mayor would soon grace city hall.

GO Program Order 158, "Early Warning System," issued on December 5th, 1975, instituted Hubbard's orders regarding his personal security. Distribution of the Order was highly restricted. Security was to be maintained by placing agents in the Offices of the United States Attorney in Washington and Los Angeles, the International Operations department of the IRS, the American Medical Association in Chicago, and several government agencies in Florida. Agents were already in place in the Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the IRS in both Washington and Los Angeles. This was not a matter of a small persecuted religion infiltrating government agencies to expose immoral actions committed by those agencies. In reality, it was a matter of protecting Hubbard from any inconvenience, let alone any litigation. 4

The Guardian's Office was in full swing, especially its Intelligence section, B-1. On December 5, "Project Power" was issued. Its purpose was to make United Churches indispensable to the Clearwater community. The Guardian's Office was to investigate the opponents of community leaders, using a minimum of illegally obtained information. United Churches would give this information to the community leader in question, and offer to make further investigations on his or her behalf. GO Operations would be mounted against such opponents. The example given in the Guardian's Order concerned a fictitious child molester called Mr. Schultz. Having obtained the mayor's permission to see what might be done to enhance the local park, outraged officials of United Churches would catch Mr. Schultz in the act. A GO Operation would then ruin Schultz completely.

There was also an instruction to do a complete survey of the county to determine who was hostile to Scientology. There were to be dossiers on medical societies, clinics, hospitals, police departments, public relations agencies, drug firms, federal, state and local government agencies, the city council, banks, investment houses, Congressional representatives and Florida's two senators.

As part of his new image, Hubbard directed a radio show for United Churches. Amazingly, no-one seemed to realize that United Churches was a front for Scientology. Hubbard bustled around wearing a tam-o'-shanter and a khaki uniform. Reverend Wicker, of the Calvary Temple of God, later said, "They introduced him to me as Mr. Hubbard, but that didn't mean anything to me - they said he was an engineer .... When I saw his picture in the paper, I felt like an idiot." 5

The plans to win favor with the mayor of Clearwater did not materialize. Before Mr. Schultz could be caught molesting little girls in the park, Mayor Gabriel Cazares (right) started asking questions. He made a public statement: "I am discomfited by the increasing visibility of security personnel, armed with billy clubs and Mace, employed by the United Churches of Florida .... I am unable to understand why this degree of security is required by a religious organization."

Cazares was added to the Enemies list. He was followed onto it by a journalist at the Clearwater Sun, who ran a story saying that the check paying for the Fort Harrison Hotel had been drawn on a Luxembourg bank. A day later the Guardian's Office put into effect a plan to destroy the career of journalist Bette Orsini of the St. Petersburg Times. She was closing in on the truth about the United Churches of Florida. 6

The Scientologists actually managed to pre-empt Orsini's story by a matter of hours. On January 28, 1976, a spokesman announced that the purchasers of the Fort Harrison Hotel and the Bank of Clearwater building were none other than the Church of Scientology of California. He reassured local people that although half of the mysterious new occupants of the buildings were Scientologists, United Churches would not be used to convert people to Scientology. On the same day, June Phillips (aka Byrne), joined the staff of the Clearwater Sun. Although the Sun paid her salary, she filed daily reports with the Guardian's Office.

The next day, the Scientology spokesman said that if United Churches was not successful in its mission to bring harmony to the religious community (!), then the Fort Harrison Hotel would become a center for advanced Scientology studies. Then he made a series of allegations about the mayor, saying his "attack" was motivated by personal profit.

Clearwater was the site for the new "Flag," the "Flag Land Base." Even before the buildings had been occupied, a new American Land Base had been promoted to Scientologists throughout the world. United Churches was just another shore story. Suddenly the town was swamped with youths in sailor suits, and a new kind of tourist with a fixed stare.

The Hubbards and their retinue had moved into a block of apartments called King Arthur's Court, in Dunedin, about five miles north of Clearwater. 7 Hubbard decided to buy some new outfits. He did not follow his usual procedure, ordering the clothes from England via his personal secretary at Saint Hill. Instead he saw a local tailor, who turned out to be a great fan of Hubbard's science fiction, and promptly boasted about his meeting with the famous author. The newspapers soon followed the tailor's lead.

Hubbard was very shy of publicity by this time, perhaps because of his increasingly poor health and appearance. The superman revered by Scientologists could not be seen to be a grossly overweight chainsmoker, with a large pointed lump on his forehead. Worse yet, Hubbard was afraid he would be subpoenaed to appear in one of the many court cases involving Scientology. Taking only three devoted Sea Org members with him, Hubbard fled Dunedin. His photo-portrait of the mayor of Clearwater never did hang in City Hall. 8

Hubbard had continued to direct the Guardian's Office, including the attack on Mayor Gabe Cazares. He personally ordered that Cazares' school records be obtained, perhaps believing that everyone lies about their academic qualifications.

In February 1976, the Guardian's Office in Clearwater was a hive of activity. The St. Petersburg Times was threatened with a libel suit. Cazares was more than threatened: A million dollar suit was filed against him for libel, slander and violation of civil rights. As Hubbard had said in the 1950s, "The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win .... The law can be used very easily to harass." 9 Scientologists went to Alpine, Texas, and pored over records concerning the Cazares family at the county clerk's office, the police department, the office of the Border Patrol, and the local Roman Catholic church. They talked with doctors, long-term residents, even the midwife who had delivered Gabe Cazares. The Cazares' headstones in the graveyard were checked. The GO decided that the Gabriel Cazares who had been born in Alpine, Texas, could not possibly be their man. Obviously the accounts did not accord with their image of a Suppressive enemy of Scientology.

A GO official assured his seniors that a handling of the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce was also underway (a Scientology agent had already joined). A Scientologist had applied for a job at the St. Petersburg Times. A dossier had been prepared on the Clearwater City Attorney, and data collections had been made on three reporters perceived to be enemies.

A radio announcer who had been making broadcasts unfavorable to Scientology was fired after threat of legal action. He was rehired only after promising not to discuss Scientology on his program.

These actions were bound to provoke some response. The Guardian's Office probably did not realize that their "enemies" would fight fire with fire. The St. Petersburg Times filed suit, charging that Hubbard and the Scientologists had conspired to "harass, intimidate, frighten, prosecute, slander, defame" Times employees. They sought an injunction against further harassment.

Gabe Cazares filed an $8 million suit. He alleged that the Scientologists were attempting to intimidate him and prevent him from doing his job. February had been a very busy month. As we shall see in the next chapter, 1976 proved to be a very busy year.

In October, Hubbard suffered a tragic blow. Back in 1959 his son Nibs had left Scientology. From that time, Hubbard had pinned his dynastic dream upon Quentin (right), his oldest son by Mary Sue. He had frequently announced that Quentin would succeed him as the leader of Scientology. At the end of October 1976, Quentin was found, comatose, in a parked car in Las Vegas with the engine still running. Quentin was rushed to a hospital where he died two weeks later, without regaining consciousness. He was not identified until several days after his death. Although no precise cause of death was determined, Quentin had certainly suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. He was twenty-two years old. 10

Quentin had tried to measure up to his father's expectations - he was one of the few top-grade Class Twelve Auditors - but he did not share his father's temperament. By all accounts he was far too gentle to govern Scientology, or indeed to govern anything. All he wanted was to fly airplanes, and he often pleaded with his father to allow him to leave the Sea Org and do just that. He had disappeared several times in an attempt to escape. There was also an aspect of his nature which could never be reconciled with his father's philosophy: Quentin was a homosexual. There is little doubt that his death was self-inflicted, as he had attempted suicide before. 11

Mary Sue broke down and wailed when she heard the news. She later tried to persuade friends that her son had died from encephalitis. Quentin's father's response was cold-blooded, he was furious that his son had let him down. There was an immediate cover-up. Documents were stolen from the coroner's office and taken to Hubbard. In accordance with Hubbard's policy regarding bad news, Scientologists were not told about Quentin's death. Some who found out were told he had been murdered.

In hiding in Washington, Hubbard busied himself trying to discover the secrets of the Soldiers of Light and the Soldiers of Darkness. He thoroughly agreed with the old gnostic belief that we are all born belonging firmly to one band or the other.


Additional sources: Documents referred to in text

1. Playing Dirty, p.86

2. Technical Volumes of Dianetics & Scientology vol.  11, p. 236

3. St. Petersburg Times, "Scientology," pp. 7, 2 & 27; Armstrong affidavit, March 1986, p.50.

4. GO Program Order 158; Mary Sue Hubbard Stipulation, pp.90f

5. St. Petersburg Times, "Scientology," p. 8

6. Clearwater Sun, 4 November 1979; St. Petersburg Times, "Scientology"

7. Terri Gamboa in vol. 24 of transcript of Church of Scientology of California vs. Gerald Armstrong, Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles, case no. C 420153, p.4238

8. Interview with witness

9. Technical Volumes of Dianetics & Scientology vol.  2, p. 157

10. Miller interview with Kima Douglas; coroner's reports

11. Interview with Frank Gerbode, Woodside, California, October 1986

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