WANTED. DEAD OR ALIVE - L. RON HUBBARD. After 1980 in the Wild Western world of Scientology, with cowboys chasing Indians, goodies and baddies fighting it out at the OK corral of org-speak, Hubbard was a man with a price on his head. Hubbard the science-fiction writer, Hubbard the founder of a religion and its guru and dictator, became Hubbard the recluse. Even his wife did not see or meet him after 1980. His communication lines were limited to the select troika of the Broekers and David Miscavige.
The motives for his going into hiding were obvious. A plethora of lawsuits were being filed against the Church and he was named in several. There was other evidence uncovered which linked him to conspiracies and illegal acts. The possibility grew into a probability that the founder of Scientology would be indicted, faced with the indignity of going on trial in a blaze of publicity and very probably sent to prison. Ron and his followers were determined that this would not happen to him, but he knew that he had accumulated plenty of enemies who were anxious to see him behind bars. That was one overwhelming reason for L. Ron Hubbard to disappear.
As already mentioned, the official reason given for his disappearance was that Hubbard wished to devote himself to writing and research. To support this contention a new blockbuster science-fiction novel entitled *Battlefield Earth* emerged from his seclusion and was published in the USA in October 1982 and immediately shot up the bestseller lists. It was hailed by the triumphant Scientologists as proof that Ron was up there with the best of them, but opponents of Scientology said it was a work of mediocre quality which had only got there because of massive advertising campaigns. Disaffected Scientologists like John Zegel allege that this technique was also used with the
promotion of DMSMH, re-launched in 1984 with a television advertising campaign which Zegel says cost over $6 million, and claims twelve books could have been given away free with every one sold and the same income achieved. Such promotions he sees as window-dressing exercises which yield a high public profile. The statistics are then used by the Church of Scientology to claim success.
The story of *Battlefield Earth* is, in Hubbard's words, as follows: 'Mankind has almost been wiped from the face of the Earth by advanced technology and is imprisoned not so much by aliens who dominate the planet, but by superstition, and the few surviving tribes - hiding like frightened animals - have taken to superstition until the hero Johnny Goodboy Tyler decides to leave the mountain sanctuary of his dying tribe and becomes the first to break free of superstition.' But there were those in October 1982 who looked at the Church of Scientology and were convinced that it had been taken over by aliens and that their hero Hubbard was either incapacitated or dead.
In November 1982 Hubbard's estranged son, Ronald DeWolf brought a probate case in Riverside, California, asking that his father be declared dead or mentally incompetent and that the assets of his father's estate be turned over to him. He alleged that Miscavige and Co had staged a coup and had stolen the golden eggs. But the old goose was not beaten yet. As we have seen, Hubbard was able to prove to the satisfaction of Judge J. David Hennigan that he was alive. Judge Hennigan concluded in his judgment of 27 June 1983: 'Mr Hubbard's constitutional right of privacy gives him a right to keep his residence a secret from the public and, therefore, he is not a Missing Person within the meaning of Probate Code 260.'
The circumstances were somewhat bizarre and in keeping with the cloak-and-dagger blanket of security which Hubbard had woven for himself. No official of the court saw him, but a special formula ink was supplied to his agents and this was used to sign an affidavit submitted to the court. It was initialled on each page and Hubbard's thumbprint appended together with a handwritten postscript. These were authenticated by Forensic Document Examiner William L. Bowman and the ink verified to be the same as that supplied. In Hubbard's declaration he described DeWolf's action as 'malicious' and added that not only had his son been disinherited, but would be disinherited in any future wills he might make.
Hubbard continued: 'I am not a missing person. I am in seclusion of my own choosing. My privacy is important to me and I do not wish
it or my affairs invaded in the manner permitted by this action. As Thoreau secluded himself by Walden Pond, so I have chosen to do so in my own fashion. I am actively writing, having published *Battlefield Earth*, and my *Space Jazz* album; a projected ten-volume work, *Mission Earth*, is in the pre-publication stage at the moment. I am actively researching and writing as well in connection with the religion of Scientology, as I have over the past decades.' Hubbard went on to state that he was exercising his constitutional right not to appear and that his business affairs were being well managed by Author Services Inc., the Los Angeles based profit-making agency run by Miscavige, He said he was aware of the forged cheque for $2 million (the Tamimi affair) but that he had informed the Bank of New England it was a forgery. Hubbard then went on to deal with the establishment of the RTC in this important document, the rest of which is reproduced in full on pages 179-83:
This is the final testament of Ron Hubbard. I say final because it is the last communication which is universally acknowledged to be authentic. The court declaration could have been typed onto pages upon which Hubbard had put his initials and the text typed afterwards, but the fact still remains that the ink, the fingerprints and the signatures all add up to proof that L. Ron Hubbard was alive on 15 May 1983.
Other communications have come from 'LRH's personal office' since that date, typewritten or telexed, but some have been shown to contain inconsistencies of style or facts which make them suspect. The last personal interview which Hubbard gave to the Press appeared in the *Saturday Evening Post* in 1968. The Church of Scientology recently issued a film interview between Hubbard and the South African broadcaster Tony Hitchman but this turned out to be a re-issued version of an original interview done in black and white in the sixties at Saint Hill and prefaced by a new introduction which Hitchman made for Golden Era studios at Gilman Springs. Photographs of Hubbard in recent years are also in short supply, the ones which are most often seen in org premises are either classics from the *Apollo* days or taken in the mid-seventies at Gilman.
However, Hubbard did give one newspaper interview in February 1983 to the *Rocky Mountain News* of Denver, Colorado. It was not in person. Questions were confined to his career as a science-fiction writer and were submitted in writing, and the replies sent back in writing to reporter Sue Lindsay. The primary purpose of Hubbard in granting the interview was to celebrate fifty years as a science-fiction
writer and promote the publication of *Battlefield Earth*, which begins its storyline in Denver. Hubbard is mostly looking back on his career but in one answer he is asked if there are any plans for a movie of the book. Hubbard replies with characteristic immodesty: 'Any writer loves glamour town. I used to sit in my penthouse on Sunset Boulevard and write stories for New York and then go to my office in the studio and have my secretary tell everybody I was in conference while I caught up on my sleep because they couldn't believe anybody could write 136 scenes a day and the Screen Writers' Guild would have killed me. Their quota was eight. I commuted between New York and Hollywood with large amounts of time off for the wide open spaces. But I loved Hollywood - still do. Who doesn't? I've recently written three screenplays and some interest has been expressed in *Battlefield Earth*, so I suppose I'll be right back in Hollywood one of these days and probably on location in the Denver area for *Battlefield Earth* when they film it.'
Assuming that the *Rocky Mountain News* interview is authentic and not another of Ron's 'tall tales', it would appear that Hubbard intended to take some hand in the film realization of his sci-fi novel. That would be very plausible, since he had vaunted himself as a director during his Gilman stint. It would be unthinkable that Hubbard would have stayed away from such an enterprise. It was not as if the control had passed out of Scientology hands. In 1982 St Martin's Press sold 125,000 copies of *Battlefield Earth* at $25 each but Bridge Publications (the profit-making publishing arm of the Church of Scientology) bought back the paperback rights and sold the film rights to Salem Productions, and Ken Annakin, a top-rank director, was slated to make two movies based on the book, which had sold 800,000 paperbacks by March 1985. The British rights were similarly retained by the Scientologists themselves. Why then did Hubbard not emerge, even for a brief moment of glory, to take his bow quickly and vanish before the FBI grabbed him? One possibility is that Ron Hubbard died some time after May 1983 - and before November 1983.
Let us first look at the arguments for Hubbard's being alive after 1983. The original reason for his seclusion still held good after that date - namely, that he was in hiding from the authorities. If he were to appear, albeit fleetingly, then he would heighten the chances of being traced to a hiding-place and subpoened to appear in court in one of the many cases pending against him. Whereas with the RTC as a front he could go on working at his ten-volume project and still be sure that the cash registers were ringing bells for him around the world.
He would be able to keep a low profile and maintain his seclusion. This version allows Hubbard to retain control behind the scenes, master-minding the campaign against the enemies of Scientology through his faithful lieutenants and was believed by Dr John Clark until at least mid 1985.
Another version which Flynn seemed to favour in late 1984 was that Hubbard was alive but completely broken in health. He bases this partly on the testimony in the Armstrong case of Kima Douglas, who was Hubbard's personal medical officer until 1980. She testified that Hubbard nearly died in 1978 when David Mayo came to Gilman to administer to him. Again in 1982 LRH was 'completely bedridden', according to Flynn. There was the stroke he suffered in 1975 in Curacao and a skin cancer on his face. A man who smoked fifty cigarettes per day, who drove himself throughout his life as Hubbard did, who was obese and who was aged 72 in 1983, would not be likely to be in the best of health. Hubbard the complete invalid would also explain the lack of authentic communications from the Scientology leader and the necessity to conceal from the world the fact that the man who sold the power to triumph over disease and to attain clarity of thought was a diseased geriatric.
Those who do not believe this explanation may point to the cassette 'Ron's Journal 38', which was issued to the troops at the end of 1983. This tape consisted entirely of a message from Hubbard and contained a reference to both the DeWolf probate ruling and to the Australia High Court upholding Scientology as a religion, both of which occurred in 1983. It might therefore be presumed that it is a further piece of evidence that Hubbard was alive after 1983, IF IT IS GENUINE. John Zegel, one of the most influential disaffected Scientologists, sent a copy of 'RJ 38' (as the tape is known) plus 'RJ 36' and an earlier Hubbard tape on study methods, to two university departments, one in Canada and one in the USA, who were involved in the analysis of the Watergate tapes. Both sets of experts reported separately that in their opinion the three tapes were made by three separate people and that one of the voices belonged to someone who had spent the early part of his life in California before moving north. Another report, published in the Phoenix journal of an independent Scientology group, declared: 'a voice-print has been done and the results prove that LRH is not the speaker on the last two "Ron's Journals". R.L. Addison of Carson Investigations, Vancouver BC, did the test.' There were reports circulating among the disaffected Scientologists that a voice synthesizer was being used to compile the 'Ron's Journals'.
Rumours also circulated that Ron had been seen in South California. 'They (the RTC) hired a double, a man called Ellis, and he used to pop up in places until the end of 1984,' says Neville Chamberlain who still adheres to the 'tech' in his practice in West Hampstead but is a 'Suppressive Person', having been found guilty of various 'crimes and high crimes' by the Church of Scientology. He is a large man in his forties who was an original Sea Org member way back in the early days. His tough macho image is reinforced by videos of Clint Eastwood, Rollerball and Rocky stacked on a shelf. His black beard bristles as he talks about the RTC, about whom he is bitter. 'I was a front man touring the world, selling the tech. I spoke my mind and was declared SP more often than anyone I know. But I got results. I set up the first centre in Scotland.'
Like many of the independents, Chamberlain is reluctant to see Hubbard as the source of the present troubles but he is realistic about the founder, calling him bluntly 'Hubbard' and not by the affectionate 'LRH' or the respectful 'Mr Hubbard'. 'The technology is basically sound. Hubbard had the perception to put it down. He had a lot of compassion. I've seen him in the depths of despair and apathy. But he was a showman and the next minute he'd be petulant, then Commodore and king of the world. I often thought he ought to have a teeshirt with the words "I'm a schizophrenic - so am I",' quips Chamberlain who is scathing about the effect of the RTC upon the credibility of Scientology. He calls the Guardians the 'Clouseau squad, the blind leading the lame', and argues that the 'Bay of Pigs' which befell Scientology has largely been self-inflicted. He is quite down-to-earth about Scientology's status as a religion. 'I used to wear a dog-collar - what a joke! We used that as a defence-mechanism and a means of tax avoidance.' Like many of the independents who remain loyal to the 'tech' he is convinced that Hubbard would not sanction what is being done by Miscavige.
So was Hubbard aware of what was going on after 1982? If Hubbard was dead, the implications are serious, for that would mean the RTC had perpetrated fraud. But there are other explanations: for instance, that Hubbard was temporarily or permanently incapacitated.
They might also explain why such a large ego as Hubbard's stayed out of the limelight for so long. He might be forgiven for hiding from the mass media who would be likely to ask some hostile questions, but why did he continue to speak to his followers through tape recordings and not through the more effective and personal medium of film or
video? The answer which suggests itself to me is that video is far more difficult to forge than sound recording. Hubbard was supposedly devoted to the latest in technical breakthroughs and yet he passed up this opportunity.
There is also the lack of corroboration for his idyllic life at Creston Ranch, San Luis Obispo. It is said he was recognized when he went downtown. Where are the witnesses? Where are the photographs of him tending his orchids, or other pictures which would be a natural by-product of his hobby of photography? Where are the staff who worked with him at the ranch, unless we are asked to believe that a man used to having hordes running around at his every whim suddenly learned the art of cooking and fending for himself. The official Scientology view asks us to believe that Hubbard evaded the FBI, the IRS, the newshounds of the mass media and left no traces of his life as a recluse. If he *did*, then it is strange that no evidence has been produced. The rush to cremate his body and scatter the ashes before an announcement was made arouses even more suspicion among the doubters. I was offered a newspaper cutting by the church, which described a local newspaperman's visit to Creston as 'evidence' of what LRH had been doing for the past six years, yet the reporter was not even permitted to see Hubbard's private quarters or anything that resembled proof that he had indeed lived there. No credible witnesses have emerged to prove that Hubbard was indeed alive and/or well at the ranch. It is difficult to see what purpose would be served by the Scientologists encouraging speculation that Hubbard died long before 1986. If they have proof that he *was* living on his ranch until the official announcement of his death, then it is indeed strange that they do not produce it - unless, of course, the doubters are right and he *did* die in 1983.
Perhaps one day the mystery of those years 1980-86 will be solved. Someone may come forward to give evidence about the final years of the guru's life. Meanwhile, speculation continues that during that period he was increasingly eccentric, wildly paranoid and probably even senile. The more sensational charge that Hubbard died in 1983 and that his death was covered up - is still believed by many. If true, it would mean that the leadership of the RTC was guilty of deception, conspiracy and fraud. Those who believe this version are faced with explaining how the cabal who headed Scientology managed to pass off the body cremated at San Luis Obispo in 1986 as Hubbard's. Was it a 'stand-in' that they produced for the occasion while supplying some old fingerprints and blood samples of the same group as Hubbard's?
Or was it Hubbard himself who became a corpse in 1983, and was refrigerated and kept on ice for the three years which the troika needed to consolidate their hold on power and to ensure that they had effective control of the church finances?
Such questions are answered by dark mutterings in the homes of breakaway Scientology groups, who accuse Miscavige and Co of stopping at nothing to keep their power. But now that Ron is 'officially' dead, and his ashes scattered over the Pacific Ocean, it will be more difficult to prove matters either way. If Hubbard had indeed died in late 1983 then it would have come at an awkward moment for the RTC. The movement was badly split. It needed to demonstrate that it had Ron's endorsement. It needed the money to finance its policies, which the use of Ron's trademarks gave it. It needed Ron alive and, by whatever means, he stayed that way until it had established its supremacy over Scientology worldwide and its claim to the fortune which he bequeathed it in his will. But it was noticeable that although Ron was 'alive', he certainly was not running the show.
For example, the style of HCOBs altered after Hubbard went into seclusion. It was widely accepted, even by Scientologists, that he was not the author of many of them. His personal control and domination of his organization was very much a feature of Scientology until 1980. But the transcript of the Mission Holders' Conference in 1982 reveals very few references to LRH or his words. It was the same on 21 October 1984 in Clearwater when the Mission holders came together to be addressed by the bigwigs of the RTC. It was Scientology's version of the May Day Parade in Moscow - it would be possible to tell the rising stars in the Politburo by those who were chosen to address the exultant throng and the direction in which Scientology was headed by what they said.
The dominant theme was 'us' against 'them'. 'They' were the IRS, the FBI, the Justice Department, etc. 'The State used to feed us to the lions, now it's to the bureaucrats,' jibed one speaker. 'I'd take the lions - at least you can reason with a lion!' The atmosphere was heady and hysterical, which suited the demagogery of Norman Starkey, the wild recruiting sergeant, who bellowed, 'The first step is, you can join the staff. Get those goddam fence-sitters off the fence and on this side! Contact! Handle! Help by exposing psychiatrists and their horrible product - government!' It was a mixture of an evangelical crusade and an auction sale as Starkey badgered the captive audience into signing a form for a life-time pledge costing
$2,000. 'Hold it up if you're gonna sign. Sign it right now.' Then he snarled, 'What's the deal - some aren't signing it? Life is $2,000!' A woman squealed her assent. Pledges came thick and fast, in a hysterical torrent of bids. One man pledged on behalf of his wife and children who were not there. A black man (a rare sight within the predominantly WASP Church of Scientology) declared to loud applause, 'This is the only game that offers equal opportunity.'
The 'stars' above this firmament were Miscavige who compered the event, Heber Jentzsch, Marc Yaeger (John Zegel's stepson) - CO CMO International - who gave statistics of the latest upsurge in sales of DMSMH but significantly omitted to say much about income from courses, which was reputedly in severe downturn. There was little talk of Hubbard until the end when Commander Vicki Aznaran, a svelte lady of around forty, wearing a silver dress with a plunging neckline, took the stage. In her Texas drawl she talked of building a group 'who knows who its friends and its enemies are... there is no question of losing this case 'cos Scientologists never quit. ...As LRH said in Philadelphia lecture tape 46: "There is no such thing as failure".' Onto the screen of the video-recording I was watching at Saint Hill flashed the face of Hubbard. It could have been my imagination, but the 'feel' of the whole event was that Hubbard was not temporarily absent but had moved on permanently and a new era had begun.
That feeling was reinforced when I sat down to watch the next video. It was portentously titled 'The Religious Freedom Convention' - Earth, 7th October 1984'. It was a very Star Trek, very American, very maudlin parody of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It contains such phrases as: 'Scientology is experiencing the greatest expansion and prosperity in its history. International in scope, Scientology each week frees more people from the debilitating effects of drugs ignorance and other sources of aberration and moves them on the path to greater awareness, self-respect and dignity than all other groups combined.'
As Heber Jentzsch read the words on the video, gentle music stole up underneath. The ceremony ended with three cheers for 'LRH' as the assembled top brass of the Church of Scientology turned to applaud a large portrait of Hubbard hanging on the wall at Saint Hill where the ceremony was taking place. The camera closed in on the portrait and Hubbard's voice filled the screen. 'In all the broad universe there is no other hope for man than ourselves. This is a tremendous responsibility...I have borne it myself too long alone
...You share it with me now...' The words were from the 1967 Hubbard edition of 'Ron's Journal' but they suddenly had a terrible relevance as to whether or not he was dead. The year was 1984. The year of Big Brother - and the year the little brothers took over.
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