This is something I found while idly surfing the thousands of documents recently (January 2017) put online at the CIA reading room. (PDF here)

The story begins in the summer of 1976 in Clearwater, Florida.

The Guardian’s Office intelligence personnel were engaged in trying to “secure” Clearwater for the arrival of L. Ron Hubbard, and creating a new “land base” for scientology sea organization members to operate out of.

There were a number of black intelligence operations being run at this time, most of which were revealed after the FBI raid July 9, 1977. One such “agent” of the Guardian’s office that engaged in these black operations was Merrell Vannier, who has since written a book called Arrows in the Dark, in which he reveals many things, one of which are operations against the St. Petersburg Times and particularly a reporter named Betty Orsini.

Note: Vannier has also gone on to be involved with creating a rival Scientology Church called the “First Independent Church of Scientology”.


So, that summer of 1976, the Church of Scientology put out a press release which started out with a cover sheet which said:


They at least say it is. But officials of the Church of Scientology were not called before Times reporter Bette Orsini ran her so-called series this week on the Church of Scientology.

Apparently the Times wasn’t interested in our comments.

In fact the reason for their series was to do something quite other than report the news accurately.

Attached is our reply. Whether or not the Times carries it, is of course another matter. That is why this is being broadly distributed to citizens, so that they at least will have the other side of the story.

Thank you for reading this.



This was followed by their reply, but I’d like to pre-point out a few things before you read it.

Notice that it is by Fred Rock, who was previously engaged in Guardian Office operations in the Missouri area, back when Merrill Vannier was being recruited to infiltrate a law office to find out about abuses at the Missouri psychiatric facility where MKultra psychiatrist Max Fink was then operating out of. Merrill was being recruited into Guardian Office intelligence by “Don Alverzo” who also went by the name Jerry Levin in his black operation against writer Paulette Cooper where he pretended to be her friend and tried to get her to commit suicide (among other evil things he did). His real name was discovered to be Jeff Marino.

In early 2015, I found the picture that enabled Paulette and my husband Mike (who knew him only by his fake cover name of as Don Alverzo) to positively identify him –


Jeff’s wife Molly was actually another undercover agent who had infiltrated the Clearwater Sun, as these excerpts from my article What Really Happened at the Missouri Institute show –

Both Molly Harlow (soon to be Molly Marino) and Fred Rock were involved in messing with reporters from the Clearwater Sun who weren’t exactly receptive to having scientology coming in and trying to strong-arm Clearwater.

Molly, as already covered, was being a spy at the Clearwater Sun. She was working together with fellow Guardian’s Office spy June Byrne, who was from England. June was working at the Sun under the false name June Phillips. Reporter Betty Orsini was investigating scientology and had landed on top of the fact that June has also been previously caught infiltrating the AMA (Joe Lisa’s particular black intelligence operation).

Top Guardian Office executives were all in a dither over the risk that Orsini would put two-and-two together about June and scientology (as documents seized in the 1977 FBI raid of the Church of Scientology showed).

The Clearwater SunCover blown, 2 spies came in from the cold by Richard Leiby Nov. 27, 1979 –

WASHINGTON – June and Jodie were Scientology spies – and apparently pretty good ones.

[…] June Phillips worked for The Clearwater Sun advertising department from Dec. 12, 1975, until sometime in November 1976

Bob Minton, of the Lisa McPherson Trust (opened in Clearwater in 2000) posted the text of the 14-part St. Petersburg Times series by Charles Stafford and Bette Orsini which won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.

The series describes the period from the arrival of the Sea Org in Clearwater, Florida late in 1975 through to the arrest and conviction of 11 members of the Guardian’s Office.

Part 8 was called: Operation Bunny Bust and details more about June Byrne and the Clearwater Sun operation.

Wanda Martin who lived in an apartment at 704 1/2 Oak Avenue in Clearwater.

A divorcee, she was a former Navy Department employee who had moved to Clearwater in late ’75 or early ’76 and taken a job with the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce. She gave as a reference Alan Hubbert of Hollywood, Calif., who was found to be a minister of Scientology. [Virginia note: he was actually also Guardian’s Office staff]

Her roommate in Clearwater was June Phillips (also known as June Byrne) from England, who was employed by the Clearwater Sun.

In April 1977, Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of Scientology’s founder and commodore staff guardian, wrote Weigand: “Please explain what the scene is — was the same person used in the Easter Seal scene used at the CW Sun and also used in the AMA (American Medical Association)? What are the liabilities here?”

On May 12, Weigand replied: “Basically the scene is that we had two agents one in the CW Sun and one in the CW Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce agent was used in the Easter Seal operation, not the CW Sun agent but the clincher is that both of these agents were in the AMA and had previously been blown.” He said the liabilities of the situation were that agents Martin and Phillips could be traced back to Mike Meisner in Washington.

Meisner, the supervisor of “Silver” and other church agents who had infiltrated government agencies in Washington, was then being sought by the FBI on a fugitive warrant.

Weigand explained to Mrs. Hubbard that June Phillips had been placed at the American Medical Association offices in Washington in 1974, where she stole AMA documents relating to Scientology, but was pulled out in 1975 when her connection with the church became known. She was sent to Clearwater where she worked as a church agent at the Sun. Wanda Martin, or Jodie, was also placed at AMA but transferred to Clearwater after her connection with the church became known.

Weigand said the situation was alarming. “The chain does lead to Orsini uncovering a Church operative network that could be used as a handle for a Grand Jury investigation of the Church activities which would include the Meisner/Silver scene.”

Before Bette Orsini could connect the Bunny Bust operatives to a church espionage network, however, Meisner surrendered to the FBI. Information he supplied led to raids on church offices in which documents were seized that led to indictment of 11 Scientologists, including Mary Sue Hubbard.

Note this part:

…Before Bette Orsini could connect the Bunny Bust operatives to a church espionage network, however, Meisner surrendered to the FBI.

That’s actually really important, because of what else was at risk, a far more dangerous thing to be exposed, and that is CIA and other intelligence agency connections within and to scientology. And so…the next thing you know? Meisner stops all things possible exposure CIA-related dead in its tracks by ‘surrendering’.


So that’s a little back story, now here’s their “reply” to the St. Pete Times article –

For Further Information Contact:
Fred Rock
210 South Fort Harrison Ave.
Florida 33516
Telephone (813) 461-1267

The St Petersburg Times and reporter Bette Orsini are engaged in a deliberate campaign to adversely influence the property tax appeal of the Church of Scientology in Clearwater and the newspaper is using political skullduggery to carry out its dishonest campaign, Scientology official Fred Rock said today.

Rock made his statements following a series of articles this week in the St Petersburg Times which he called deceptive, distorted and politically motivated.

“The Times is trying to adversely influence our property tax appeal by making false innuendos about the Church of Scientology of California which owns the Clearwater facility.

In actual fact the status of the Church of Scientology of California is currently under review by the Internal Revenue Service for tax exemption. So far [blacked out] Churches of Scientology around the country have received their IRS tax exemption. The California Church being the largest, simply takes longer than the rest.”

“All the points in which the Times attacked our Church-administration of the Church’s trust fund, tithing by Churches to the Mother Church, tax exempt status of the various Churches and other points–have already been checked and approved by the IRS, the courts, and yearly audits by independent public accountants. This was known by the Times prior to publication of their articles yet they deliberately painted a false and distorted picture,” Rock said.

“We know from contacts with the IRS that Bette Orsini had this information earlier which indicates that she must be quite aware that she is just manufacturing a false sensation timed to drum up unwarranted and unjustified adverse opinions on the part of those who will be deciding our tax exemption question,” Rock said.

“The sensation would be found in examining the Times’ true motives in attacking the Church of Scientology. It is quite true that the Church has been critical of abusive government activities and has sought reforms. Now we find that certain employees of the Times seem to have strangely close ties with certain areas of the government .. “

Last March the FREEDOM Journal reported that information had been made available indicating that Times Chairman Nelson Poynter was allegedly an employee of the CIA [circled]. The CIA confirmed the report through its personnel department but declined to give the dates of his employment or nature of his work.

“Recently we were turned down in our request to inspect the files on our Church maintained by the St. Petersburg Police,” Rock said. “It was interesting, however, that Police Chief Vines told two of us that 10% of the material in his file were follow-ups on leads given him by Times reporter Bette Orsini.”

“Orsini’s series was, of course, no investigative feat as much of the information was a matter of public record and the rest were her own distortions and deliberately false interpretations of the information.”

“Even certain Times employees were surprised to learn that Orsini never even called us for comment although the Times alleges that it is their policy to always call,” Rock said.

“Maybe these employees did not know that Bette Orsini’s mission was not to report the news accurately but was to try to adversely and politically influence opinions regarding our tax exempt status.”

“The intention of the ~ and Bette Orsini in this matter is dishonest and underhanded,” Rock said. “They are more interested in political skullduggery than reporting the news fairly. There were only two articles in the series so far; however, we expect the Times will do more articles before our appeal on our tax exempt status goes before the Pinellas County Board of Tax Adjustment.”

“If the members of the Tax Board rely on the false and misleading information printed in the Times and the Clearwater Sun – a local paper in Clearwater, as did Tax Assessor MacHaines and Assistant County Attorney James Helinger, then of course the Board will probably decide against us. This seems to be just what Bette Orsini would like to see happen.”


Images of the press release (click to enlarge) –


So then, on July 22, 1976, Eugene Patterson (the editor and president of the St. Pete Times) sends a letter to George H.W. Bush, the Director of the CIA.

Eugene writes –


Dear George:

A cult named the Church of Scientology has moved into our area. Its modus operandi is to attack, denigrate and sue the press in an effort to discourage reporting of its methods.

The outfit currently is trying to smear Nelson Poynter, chairman of the board of The St. Petersburg Times, by saying he was an employee of the CIA.

The enclosed handout, widely distributed here today, says “The CIA confirmed the report through its personnel department.”

Thus the CIA as well as Mr. Poynter is misrepresented.

It is quite generally known that Mr. Poynter helped activate the U.S. Information Agency as a deputy to General William Donovan during World War II.

But he has never been an employee of the CIA. I would greatly appreciate a letter from you or your personnel department that will help us correct the record which the attached handout, on page 2, misrepresents.


Notice the informality of the salutation – Dear George. Not Dear Mr. Bush, which would be the more common salutation. The average person wouldn’t address the head of the CIA as Dear George unless there already existed some sort of familiarity between Mr. Patterson and the head of the CIA.

Seriously, would you write a letter to the head of the CIA and say Dear George? Of course you wouldn’t. It’s basic manners to address a senior executive in a more formal and respectful fashion, unless you were trying to piss them off. Clearly that is not what Patterson is doing.

Apart from however else this familiar relationship was forged between the Times and the head of the CIA, there is also the simple fact that it is now well documented that the CIA had “arrangements” with the heads and editors of a number of major newspapers, such as the LA Times and so on.

Arrangements to publish stories the way the CIA wanted them to be. This was very clear in the LA times treatment of Gary Webb and his journalistic attempts to expose CIA complicity in cocaine traffficking. See my article entitled: The Vatican Meets Nicaragua: Scientology and the Unification Church – Get on Your Knees World for documentation of that and the CIA methods they used even on their own people to try and cover this up.

Now, what the average reader also wouldn’t know here is that the term “employee” of the CIA is a very specific thing.

CIA agent Tom Tripodi explains:

Much of what the CIA does is accomplished utilizing contract agents […] rather than staff personnel.

There are four basic employment designations in the CIA: staff agents, staff employees, contract agents, and contract employees.

An agent designation denotes someone operating under a cover identity. An employee is basically an “open,” someone openly identified as an employee of the CIA. Staff agents and employees have executive and civil service status. Contract agents and employees do not; they serve under a contractual arrangement, generally with renewals every two years.1

So denying one is an “employee” of the CIA, as in an “open” on the books employee, does not automatically mean they have no relationship whatsoever with the CIA. In fact, the CIA would strenuously DENY any very real covert relationships like Tripodi describes, if one existed.

So, was Fred Rock lieing when he called Poynter an “open”? In a manner of speaking, yes. I think they probably spun it that way on purpose which was just plain stupid. This is the problem with a lot of the “work” of some Guardian office members. They literally sabotage any real and effective attacks that could be made on the CIA with their retarded ones.

Is that an accident? Stupidity? Or something more…

Well, that’s part of the literally unplumbed depths of irony here in today’s story.

Here’s the Church of Scientology, whose leader, L .Ron Hubbard himself was a dang CIA contract agent – deep undercover – of Miles Copeland, who then creates an intelligence agency within scientology called the Guardian Office, whom itself has a number of obvious other CIA contract operatives within it (such as Jerry McDonald and Jimmy Mulligan, for example) who, of course, are going to sabotage any real threat to CIA operations, and they are ALL MIXED UP WITH people that were working in the Guardian’s Office who actually thought they were fighting against the CIA etc.!!!

Note: We call such people dupes, because they don’t realize (or don’t want to realize) that they are being used as part of a much larger operation or “game”.

And here’s Fred Rock, a Guardian Office Public Relations guy launching an attack on the St. Pete Times accusing them of being CIA, but he deliberately? chooses the wrong term and method of nailing the guy for his obviously very real status of actually being a favored asset of the CIA.

Thereby tanking the whole thing right out of the starting gate!



See what I mean?


What a mess of tangled lines.


From this, you can perhaps also now see why some people choose the easy route and just say It’s a Cult!! and “It’s a Con” and “That’s ALL it is.” – somewhat hysterically I might add. You can practically feel how badly they want that to be true, but at the same time they know it isn’t. These people just don’t want to face what they would actually have to do in order to truly sort out what happened to them. The very same thing they should have acted on when they first ran into these CIA front groups, I might add.

So, that’s what’s going on around this “attack” by Fred Rock. The sub-text, so to speak.

But then things get taken up to a whole new level of bullshit posturing, when George H.W. Bush decides to go on a bit of a rant in his response to Patterson.

First, his aide (or assistant) answered Patterson on 30 July 1976 and said:

Image – (click to enlarge) Text follows

Dear Mr. Patterson,

Mr. Bush asked me to look into the allegation made about the Central Intelligence Agency in the handout (undated) which you enclosed in your letter to him of July 22.
We were unaware, until the receipt of your letter, of the report by the Church of Scientology that Mr. Nelson Poynter, chairman of the board of the St. Petersburg Times, “was allegedly an employee of the CIA”. Consequently, the statement that “the CIA confirmed the report” could not be and is not true. Apparently the Church of Scientology has not asked Mr. Poynter whether he was employed by the CIA.

I hope this information is helpful.


Andrew T. Falkiewicz
Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence


It would seem this answer should have been enough, but no, Bush himself felt the need to personally answer Patterson, probably because of that already existing relationship.

Image – (click to enlarge) Text follows

On 4 August 1976, Bush wrote –

Dear Eugene,

Thanks for your letter of July 22nd, which enclosed an attachment from the Church of Scientology.

You ask about the reference to CIA on page 2 of the press release. The statement is false. I hope this will help clear the matter up.

And here he goes –

I would be remiss if I didn’t make one additional comment, which is totally unrelated to Mr. Poynter. I think it is a sorry state of affairs when a person can be “smeared” by an allegation that he worked for the CIA. I recognize the sensitivity between  journalists and CIA, and indeed we have taken steps here to make things better; but I still come back to the fact that it is a shame when the climate is such that cooperating with CIA in some way leaves one open to a “smear” attack.

Someday I hope we have the opportunity to discuss this in person. I respect your judgment on these matters.

My perception of CIA is far different from the inside than it was from the outside. There is an awful lot of dedication, patriotism, and integrity in this place and I feel frustrated that I have been unable to make that clear to the American people.

Warm personal regards,


George Bush


Oh man….is that something or what?

Particularly the line “I feel frustrated that I have been unable to make that clear to the American people.



What’s he trying to spin off from there?

The Senate hearings investigating illegal CIA operations.

Of which, at the time of George writing his “poor misunderstood us” written soliloquoy here, the CIA had successfully BLOCKED congress from finding out just what the hell these “poor innocents” had really been up to.

And then, in just a little over six months from the date of his letter, something magnificent happened.

John Marks, in March of 1977 through a FOIA request, had unearthed over 20,000 documents concerning the nasty doings of the CIA and its secret project MKULTRA.

Congress wasn’t even told about it until July of 1977, probably because Bush was trying to figure out how to do damage control now that his “we’re so misunderstood” ruse was completely shattered.

And then in August of 1977, The MKUltra hearings began. (PDF here)

Senator Ted Kennedy opening remarks –

Some 2 years ago, the Senate Health Subcommittee heard chilling testimony about the human experimentation activities of the Central Intelligence Agency.
[…] Perhaps most disturbing of all was the fact that the extent of experimentation on human subjects was unknown. The records of all these activities were destroyed in January 1973, at the instruction of then CIA Director Richard Helms. In spite of persistent inquiries by both the Health Subcommittee and the Intelligence Committee, no additional records or information were forthcoming. And no one — no single individual — could be found who remembered the details, not the Director of the CIA, who ordered the documents destroyed, not the official responsible for the program, nor any of his associates.
We believed that the record, incomplete as it was, was as complete as it was going to be.
Then one individual, through a Freedom of Information request, accomplished what two U.S. Senate committees could not. He spurred the agency into finding additional records pertaining to the CIA’s program of experimentation with human subjects. These new records were discovered by the agency in March. Their existence was not made known to the Congress until July.
The records reveal a far more extensive series of experiments than had previously been thought.


Clearly, George H.W. Bush, mister “we’re so innocent”, was not one of the people who decided to help Marks find those documents.

What did they (the Senate hearings) find among the documents?

Wikipedia –

MKUltra used numerous methodologies to manipulate people’s mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs (especially LSD) and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as various forms of torture.


As the US Supreme Court later noted, MKULTRA was:

concerned with “the research and development of chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.


In conclusion, I feel that this letter by Bush stands as an absolutely perfect example of just what outright liars these people are and what methods they will use to try and convince people otherwise.

There was no excuse for what they did.


* * *

Researched and written by –

Virginia McClaughry


References –

1 – Tripodi and Disorio – Crusade: Undercover Against the Mafia and KGB, 1993

George Hunter White’s cover was narcotics agent, for example, but this can go much deeper than even that rather clear-cut example.

Tripodi details just how far these people would go to keep something hidden, and how far their reach actually is. He’s talking about the car accident of a KGB agent, and says:

Some of the guys in our office were still griping about the mess created by the accident. It had been their job, for reasons of national security, to control any and all information stemming from the accident.  Police reports, news coverage, insurance claims, eye-witness accounts-it all had to be controlled. They must have done a good job, for years later, investigative reporters were still trying to prove that an accident had even taken place.

Tripodi describes just how intricate what he calls “backstopping” can be when an intelligence cover is created –

An alias was used in contacts with people outside the agency. As usual, it was fully backstopped. I had a driver’s license, a Social Security number, and credit cards, all under the alias name. There was an address, an employment record, and other supporting documentation.

[…] Every cover was backstopped in multiple layers. A cover as a Defense Department analyst, for instance, was supported not only with the proper credentials, but with in-place verification. If someone checked at Defense, he’d find a complete history.


Probably one of the best examples of this kind of truly deep cover operative – totally divorced from any official CIA records of their utilization – were Miles Copeland’s recruited contract agents – L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology and Frank Buchman of the MRA.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. You are an amazing researcher.


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All that Spy Stuff, Historical Research


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