Church of Scientology spies stole secret Internal Revenue Service files on celebrities and politicians and infiltrated such private groups as the American Medical Association, according to internal church documents released by a federal judge here yesterday.
The documents were among thousands released by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey. They include details of a church plan to begin a "rumor campaign" against U.S Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.). They also detail several instances of church operatives posing as reporters or students to gain access to Capitol Hill offices or federal judges' chambers.
Among the celebrities whose tax files -- and some returns -- were obtained were singer Frank Sinatra and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, the documents indicated. The church files suggest the documents were taken from IRS files so the public could learn that the IRS gathered nontax-related intelligence on such persons.
The documents were among hundreds of thousands of pages seized from Church of Scientology offices in Los Angeles on July 8, 1977, by federal authorities investigating the church. Nine church members and leaders were found guilty by Judge Richey last week of various criminal charges in connection with a church plan to break into government offices, steal government documents and electronically "bug" one IRS meeting.
At the time of their convictions, Richey released several hundred pages of documents that would have been used in a criminal trial against them. The documents released yesterday dealt with a wider range of church spying activities. . . involving private citizens and private groups. . . than those previously released by the judge.
The church's president, the Rev. Kenneth Whitman, issued a statement last night saying the newly released documents "tell nothing about the actual workings of the Church of Scientology or of the crimes of government agencies which the church has been fighting for over 25 years."
He reiterated that the church does not condone violations "of law or established church creed by our own members,"but also said it deplores a government conspiracy it sees as operating against the church.
Church officials have said in the past that any actions taken by their members were in response to what they viewed as government harassment -- including fights over the church's tax status, its methods of counseling members, and alleged infiltration of the church by government spies.
The documents released yesterday give the greatest public detail to date on the steps taken by the church to probe and denigrate its perceived enemies.
One document was a nearly 100-page-long biography of U.S. District Judge Oliver Gasch, whom the church apparently perceived as an enemy because of actions he took involving the church in the late 1950s when he was U.s. attorney here.
The document lists legal committees -- including a bar group's "Annual Spring Outing Ticket Committee" -- to which Gasch belonged as far back as the names of each person who served on the committees with him. It also included an interview with the judge conducted by a Scientologist who visited him in his chambers.
The document does not explain how the Scientologist identified himself to the judge. But another document telling operatives how to spy on judges suggested posing as reporters or students and getting the judges to discuss their favorite cases.
The Scientologist said in his report that "I had no recording device," but that he brought up Scientology in the context of discussing the McCarthy era in the early 1950s. Gasch "seemed to have forgotten" his earlier involvement with Scientology, the member reported at one point, but called a prosecutor in the member's presence to get current information on the church.
The operative said Gasch and the prosecutor were "good buddies, evidently" and that the prosecutor was "feeding him entheta" (the church's term for misinformation) and Gasch was "eating it up. . . chuckling and offering sarcastic comments."
The documents were replete with code names for members and their targets -- DeConcini was known to church operatives as " the wap" -- and the church spies' apparent obsession with their own security network.
At one point, the church told its spies to pose as doctors or reporters to leak derogatory information about the California Medical Association, and warned them that in doing so they should "act like an MD -- deep voice -- mature."
Other documents discussed a "Seven Samurai project" that was not further explained, and a plan to steal grand jury minutes from a New York secret panel investigating another sect. The church also claims in its files that it has several members who are employed by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The information on DeConcini made it clear that nothing derogatory had been turned up about the senator. But the document said "a rumor campaign will soon be started -- so his career need not be promising." It said that if DeConcini refused to join the church in an attack on a church enemy in Arizona, "zap he gets hit with the submissions and D.C. press."
The documents include praise for the church's operative inside the American Medical Association, saying "during her time there she has obtained approximately 6-7 feet of internal AMA documents" -- including its "most confidential" materials.
The church has been engaged in a decades-long fight with the American Medial Association and various psychiatric groups.