Operation Snow White was a systematic attempt by the Church of Scientology to infiltrate and steal classified files on Scientology from governments all over the world. Its exposure by the FBI in 1977 led to the arrest and imprisonment of the senior leadership of the Church's intelligence agency, the Guardian's Office, in the US and Canada.
The program consisted of a number of sub-programs ("Snow White Operating Targets" or "SWOTs"), each with a different codename, aimed at targets in particular countries or international organisations. The original aim of the program was to expose and legally expunge "all false and secret files of the nations of operating areas" and to enable OTC (the Panamanian-registered front organisation for the Sea Org), the Apollo (the Sea Org flagship) and L. Ron Hubbard himself to "frequent all Western nations without threat." Crucially, the word "legally" was later removed to enable this goal to be met through clandestine (and illegal) operations.
Snow White lives!
In 1989, a letter came to light from a member of the Office of Special Affairs, the body which replaced the Guardian's Office in the early 1980s. Elaine Siegel described herself in the letter as "Snow White Programs Chief" in the Office of Special Affairs United States and went on to describe her functions and those of the "Snow White Unit". A copy was sent to the IRS - it had been one of the bodies targetted by the Snow White conspiracy in the 1970s - which queried Scientology's claim that "[t]he Snow White program is not being executed today." This was the Church's response:
Initially, it must be stated that the document in question was stolen from Church offices by an individual who had infiltrated the Church at the behest of the Cult Awareness Network. It was then passed on to the IRS by the CAN infiltrator via CAN ...
The "apparent discrepancy" to which [the IRS] refers seemingly arises from use of the word "programs" in a post title that includes the words "Snow White" viewed against the statement on page 10-5 of our response to your second series of questions that "The Snow White program is not being executed today."
(Church of Scientology IRS 1023 Tax Exempt Application, p 10-11)
So why have a "Programs Chief" if she has no programs to supervise?
There is no inconsistency. That same page also states that the term Snow White became synonymous with the activity of legally locating and correcting false reports on the Church. The Church vigorously pursues these objectives through the use of the Freedom of Information Act and through direct negotiation with government agencies intended to persuade them, at minimum, that if expungement of false reports is not feasible, corrective reports should be filed.
(Church of Scientology IRS 1023 Tax Exempt Application, p 10-11)
On its own figures, the Church has obtained millions of pages of documents from US Federal and State authorities through the use of FOIA. This is, of course, entirely legitimate.
The original Snow White program, provided as Exhibit II-10-A, was written specifically to address problems which existed in 1973 with respect to OTC, the Apollo and Mr. Hubbard. Because the United States State Department and other government agencies had engaged in the circulation of false reports, free access to various Western ports and nations had been severely curtailed. The Apollo was sold in 1975, OTC became inactive at that time, and Mr. Hubbard passed away in 1986. Clearly, the original Snow White program became obsolete within a couple of years of its creation and is no longer in effect. In fact, the Apollo no longer exists. Once converted by its new ownership to a restaurant in Texas, it was involved in a train collision and in dry dock was cut into scrap. So, there is no way the Apollo will be frequenting Western or any ports!
(Church of Scientology IRS 1023 Tax Exempt Application, p 10-11)
Why, in that case, did Elaine Siegel reiterate the "Ideal Scene" of the Snow White program - "All false and secret files of the nations of operating areas brought to view and legally expunged and OTC, "Apollo" and LRH free to frequent all Western ports and nations without threat and all required ports open and free"? If this goal is obsolescent, why then was it still cited as the "Ideal Scene"? This rather obvious point of logic (or illogic) went by default when the IRS' assessors were ordered by their superiors to desist from pursuing substantive issues such as this.
However, obsolescence of the actual program did not invalidate Mr. Hubbard's observation that when governmental and police agencies are allowed to accumulate false information in their files, and disseminate it to other agencies, they then "...tend to act on the file without the presence of the real scene data which is factually good but which is then ignored." In an ongoing effort to practice the Scientology religion free from the interference of misinformed government agencies, the Church continues to pursue the Snow White objectives with the legal means at its disposal. Only when the Church is free from governmental harassment and is accorded its rights will the need for Snow White activities vanish.
(Church of Scientology IRS 1023 Tax Exempt Application, pp. 10-11, 10-12)
The latter sentence is the key one: "government harassment" to Scientology means any adverse government intervention in the Church's affairs, be it over taxation, working conditions, or any other area within the government's competence. The Church will only accept that it has been "accorded its rights" when it has achieved the goals laid down in 1960 by L. Ron Hubbard, in a policy directive which is still in force and underlies much of the Church's strategy towards its relations with society -
[B]ring the government and hostile philosophies or societies into a state of complete compliance with the goals of Scientology. This is done by high level ability to control and in its absence by low level ability to overwhelm. Introvert such agencies. Control such agencies. Scientology is the only game on Earth where everybody wins. There is no overt [sin] in bringing good order.
(Hubbard, HCO Policy Letter of 15 August 1960, Department of Government Affairs)
The IRS and the Snow White Program
The IRS was one of the key targets of the Snow White Program in the 1970s, when Scientology agents systematically infiltrated, bugged and burgled the Service. (See the Timeline for a chronology of the covert activities against the IRS). The IRS and other US Federal and State agencies were targetted under the Snow White sub-program, Project Hunter. The goals and "operating targets" of Project Hunter were stated as follows in the original Snow White plan, written by L. Ron Hubbard himself on 20 April 1973:
|PGM SNOW WHITE
SWOT 15. United States
The reference on this project is Record Correction.
According to Paris Police reports the US has falsely reported on LRH.
This means that the Treasury Dept US Liaison with Interpol and possibly the FBI have and have forwarded false reports to many other countries.
Also, as this area will become a subject of UN complaint, all recourse must be exhausted.
Any action taken against this area must also be very polite and not abusive, per UN requirements.
This area is the GO OTV Liaison for Legal. But no action may be taken without the full agreement of the GO US.
A suggested program follows:
Project Hunter soon descended into wholesale illegality, with the full approval of Mary Sue Hubbard (convicted of conspiracy in 1979 and jailed) and almost certainly of L. Ron Hubbard himself. He was named as an "unindicted co-conspirator" but prosecutors could not put together a strong enough case to try him for his role in the affair.
However, despite the demise of the Guardian's Office and conviction of the Snow White conspirators, the Snow White Program itself continued, as the Church admitted in its reply to the IRS' queries. It is more than likely that Project Hunter (or a derivative thereof) also continued. It's interesting to compare Project Hunter's objectives to the secret agreement which Scientology reached with the IRS in 1993. Did the terms of the agreement fulfil the goals laid down back in 1973?
|(a) Existing attorneys may be used or new ones retained in Washington D.C.
|Unknown, but probably yes, many years ago.
|(b) According to the first amendment of the US Constitution the right of petition may not be denied. Therefore it is suggested that the Treasury Interpol unit and the FBI be separately petitioned to correct their records re LRH and to see that anyone to whom they have reported overseas be given a record correction. A minimum of evidence should be presented.
|Partly achieved through use of FOIA to obtain Treasury, Interpol and FBI files. The agencies are not known to have sent "record corrections" to overseas bodies.
|(c) When the FBI fails to act, if it does not act, to correct the record, a suit should be filed to correct it at which time much fuller evidence, as per Record Correction may be presented.
|Not achieved. FBI records still contain much "entheta" and can be obtained through FOIA.
|(d) When Treasury fails to act, if it does not act, it should be subject to suit.
|Unknown, but - as with FBI - unlikely to have been achieved.
|(e) The damages resulting from these false reports are incredible, resulting in immigration and other trouble.
|The US Government has not formally paid any compensation to Scientology for supposed "damages". However, Scientology successfully avoided paying tax between 1967 and 1993, and then paid $12.5m under the terms of the 1993 agreement, effectively $473,076 for each of the unpaid years. Revenue figures submitted to the IRS for 18 of the 30 Scientology entities total about $285m per year (see The New York Times, "Scientologists Report Assets of $400 Million", 22 Oct 1993). That means that Scientology in effect has been taxed at only 0.16% of its income. The money saved could certainly be regarded as extensive compensation: had Scientology been taxed at, say, 2% of its income, it would have had to pay over $150m in back taxes.
|(f) Part of any settlement must include the advising of interior US agencies (States and cities) that false reports have been given on LRH.
|Achieved. Paragraph 5 of the Settlement Agreement contains a specific pledge by the IRS to disseminate, at tax-payers' expense, the "Church Fact Sheet" - a document written by Scientology.
|(g) Part of any settlement must include advising all countries in these targets that the reports sent were false.
|Achieved. See (f), above. The Church has been using the IRS' endorsement of its claims to demand tax exemption from overseas governments. (See the IRS' covering letter). If the IRS failed to implement this promise, the agreement would be null and void. This particular aspect of the agreement appears to be a major contravention of the legal separation of church and state in the US.
|(h) Documents attesting the falsity of such reports must be then made available to the GO, so the govt. statement can be circulated by the GO.
|Achieved at least partially, through the use of FOIA. The agreement does not appear to require the IRS to disclose its own documentation to Scientology, but this would be unneccessary in any case; all it would require would be for the IRS to be liberal in what it disclosed under FOIA.
|(i) All records must be carefully preserved for UN use.
|Scientology did try to take its case to the UN (and even appointed an "Ambassador" to the UN, John McMaster). However, this was an embarrassing failure and nothing more came of it.
Of the nine targets of Project Hunter, six have been achieved in part or completely and three have not been achieved. Of those targets which have been achieved, three were through the 1993 settlement agreement with the IRS. It would be a remarkable coincidence if Scientology's demand for the IRS to send a "record correction" to overseas governments - a demand accepted by the IRS - had nothing to do with Project Hunter's targets to the same effect. Equally, the extraordinarily low sum of $12.5m in payment of back taxes can be interpreted as being, in effect, compensation for Scientology's long fight (and massive legal bills) against the IRS.
It is significant that the payment was made by the Church of Scientology International (CSI), an entity incorporated in November 1981, which has never before had tax exemption. The original exemption was given to Church of Scientology of California (CSC), described in November 1982 by Lyman Spurlock (then the Corporate Affairs Director of the Church) as being
"this one huge corporation ... underneath the CSC, the Mother Church, we have all the orgs. They ran the orgs. They collected management payments. They collected SOR [Sea Organization Reserves] payments ... the most prosperous units in Scientology were in C of S of C..."
(tape recording of the Mission Holders' Conference, San Francisco, November 1982)
From 1986 onwards, CSC was systematically asset-stripped by CSI and the Religious Technology Center (RTC) after Larry Wollersheim, a former Scientologist, won $25m in damages (later reduced to $2.5m on appeal). The California courts found in late 1997 that Scientology's structure of supposedly independent corporations was a sham and ordered the RTC and CSI to pay the damages.
The IRS dropped its long-standing tax demand against CSC and the other Scientology entities, instead collecting money from CSI on behalf of all Scientology entities, despite the supposedly independent status of the latter. This suggests that the agency had formally recognised as long ago as 1993 that the corporate structure was a sham. In effect, it recognised CSI as a body empowered to represent the Church as a whole - and Scientology's acceptance of this necessary condition of the agreement is an acknowledgement of CSI's position as the one of the real authorities in the corporate structure.
Last updated 16 January 1998
by Chris Owen (email@example.com)