As anyone with a passing knowledge of litigation knows, discussing any alleged Scientology conspiracy on the internet is risky business. But the facts behind the story of Operation Snow White demonstrate that the scheme was a conspiracy involving the largest successful infiltration of the United States government ever uncovered.
Forget Communists, Russians, and lizard people - nobody has launched a greater espionage mission within US borders than the Church of Scientology. They might not have entirely gotten away with it, but it's hard to argue Operation Snow White was anything but a resounding victory - and a major reason why the church remains powerful to this day.
A number of legal issues for both L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology prompted the development of Operation Snow White in 1973. The most direct cause was the IRS's decision to revoke Scientology's tax-exempt status six years earlier, which the church didn't want to accept.
The IRS had said it "proved conclusively that the church was operated for the benefit of L. Ron Hubbard and his family."
Hubbard fervently denied the FBI's findings that the church operated for his benefit and continued to refuse orders to pay taxes. To change the US government's view of Scientology as a "dissident group," L. Ron Hubbard and the church set out to "purge unfavorable records" of allegedly false reports the intelligence community had collected about the organization.
Operation Snow White began innocently - if perhaps dishonestly - enough, but it soon devolved into what some called an outright conspiracy against the US government.
L. Ron Hubbard's third wife, Mary Sue, was a prominent figure in the Church of Scientology throughout their marriage, and she took a large role in implementing Operation Snow White. Mary Sue used the church's legal and investigative arm, known as the Guardian Office, and began with attempts to discredit Scientology's supposed enemies in the press and medical community.
In the '70s, the Guardian Office used its considerable resources to launch a conspiracy that involved infiltrating multiple government agencies, foreign embassies, and consulates, along with countless private organizations. The goal was to purge records they deemed unfavorable to the Hubbards and the church, and prevent new such reports from being generated.
The IRS, which is the government agency that stripped the Church of Scientology of its tax exemption, drew the most attention from Operation Snow White. As Snow White unfolded, the IRS became subject to employee infiltration, document theft, and electronic bugging.
According to a written doctrine by L. Ron Hubbard called the "Fair Game" policy, Scientology adversaries like the IRS could be "deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist." They may also "be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed."