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Fri Jul 10 18:06:04 EDT 2020
Ken Urquhart writes a regular column in the magazine International
Viewpoints called 'IVy on the Wall', and we bring here some of his
articles devoted to looking at Jon Atak's book 'A Piece of Blue Sky'.
These articles can also be found at
This one is from International Viewpoints (IVy) Issue 55- January
See Home Page at http://home8.inet.tele.dk/ivy/
IVy on the Wall
By Ken Urquhart, USA
Chapter Eight In a Consideration of 'A Piece of Blue Sky' By Jon
We proceed to Part 4 of this book, 'The Sea Organization 1966-1976'.
Its six chapters are: Scientology at Sea; Heavy Ethics; The Empire
Strikes Back; The Death of Susan Meister; Hubbard's Travels; The Flag
In a number of places in this part our author, Jon Atack, includes
or introduces a number of factual discrepancies that I am going to
correct - trusting to my memory, let it be admitted beforehand.
And let the reader also be forewarned that some of the discrepancies
are hardly important - but I believe that it is not unimportant
to have a true record of fact or at least of report. Having said my
say on that subject, I will then explore an aspect of Hubbard's work
that Jon highlights with obvious contempt - Hubbard's system of
Fog warnings and hornings
1. On p.166 Jon refers to references to the accounts
for the Hickstead Garage, a local business in which one of the
in the Saint Hill corporate structure invested. The accounts were
evidently suspicious. Jon's inference is that LRH made them so. The
opposite is true. The garage was under the direct supervision of an
executive working at SH. My personal and direct observation is that
in 1964, that executive, Peter Hemery, took his annual summer
Mary Sue Hubbard covered his duties. I saw MSH on several different
days on her hands and knees on his office floor, with stacks of
spread out before her. She had found some discrepancy and was auditing
the books. LRH himself told me a few days later that she had
that the manager of the garage had been cooking the books under the
nose of the executive he was hoodwinking. They were both fired.
after that the garage was sold. Far from being another example of
LRH's dishonesty, it was actually a case of his distancing himself
from another's dishonesty.
2. On the same page, Jon has LRH welcomed at London
Airport on his return from South Africa, where he had been kicked
out of Rhodesia, by hundreds of cheering Scientologists. I was one
of them; we were not more than 40 in number.
3. p.168. Jon asserts that LRH took information
from a 1950's book by a psychologist on the Anti-Social Personality
to write material he (LRH) presented as his own original work on the
subject. This is a possibility; the existence of the earlier work
does not prove that it caused the later. Jon's inference is not a
fact; it requires verification.
4. p.171. Jon says that the reported expenditure
for one year of 70,000 pounds sterling on sending mailings to the
US Mailing List is 'astonishing'. A large part of the prosperity
at SH came from the mailings of 'The Auditor' magazine over the
world, mostly to the USA. The magazine went to around 70,000 addresses
in the US alone. I know. I was Director of Communications SH for a
while and had to get the thing out to the post office. These were
huge mailings. What exactly astonishes Jon is not clear - but
it evidently is something in his own head, not something in the facts
of the matter.
5 p.180. Jon shows his ignorance of ships more
than once. He says here that the chain locker is in the 'bowels'
of the ship, that it is cold, wet, and has rats, is unlit, and that
access is by way of a tiny manhole. The chain in question is the chain
attached to a ship's anchor; an anchor is always located at the bow
and possibly also at the stern; the 'Royal Scotsman' had two
bow anchors, as most large ships do, and a stern anchor. The locker
that stores the anchor's chain is directly below the opening on the
deck through which the chain runs to let the anchor out or bring it
in. There is not very much ship below the bows and the chain locker
is hardly anywhere near the ship's bowels. I once inspected one
of the bow chain lockers; I looked in through a large opening and
found it flooded with daylight, dry, and not a rat in sight.
6 p.180. Jon tells how the first person to be
thrown overboard hit the rubbing strake as he fell, with a
loud crash. Jon explains to us that the rubbing strake is a ledge
jutting out from the ship beneath the waterline to keep other ships
at bay in a collision. This is twaddle. The rubbing strake runs most
of the length of the ship on each side and its purpose is to keep
the ship from rubbing or banging its hull against jetties and piers.
It is placed a few feet above the water line; below the water it would
seriously impede control of the ship. Such a thing would be completely
useless in the event of a collision. If a man were to fall on the
rubbing strake from a height high enough that the meeting of the two
would create a very loud noise, he would have been seriously injured.
I believe that Jon has swallowed an old salt's tall story told (and
relayed) for effect, not truth.
7. p.181. Jon asserts that 'Scientologists
were used to Hubbard's auditing techniques, where they did not
the reasoning behind a set of commands, but simply answered or carried
them out'. He is saying that this is the reason why we all obeyed
(or tried to obey) Hubbard so compliantly and robotically. Here he
compresses reality down to an unimaginably stupid simplicity that
has little or no connection with the actuality of what was going
on. Firstly, most people on the ship had had no or very little
Secondly, few on the ship had regular auditing, most of the time.
Thirdly, no auditor with any self-respect would ever permit a preclear
to run a process not fully understood by the preclear. Fourthly, if
a preclear did not question the reasoning behind a process, the
auditor ran the process in such a way that the preclear would come
to understand it. This certainly was the ideal, at any rate, and
was no less than what LRH himself demanded strenuously from auditors
around him who would not dare try to deceive him. Here Jon reveals
his inability to conceive of the actuality of what auditing could
be. Discussion of whether or not anyone should audit another on
Hubbard's processes is a different argument altogether
8. p.181. Jon states that most Sea Org members
accepted the bizarre ethics practices out of devotion to LRH. This
is largely correct; one could add that most of us answered a call
we heard to do something effective about the state of Planet Earth.
Whether we should have heard it, or, having heard it should have
it, is again a separate argument. It was not devotion to the person
of LRH alone that motivated us.
9. p.181. Jon: 'It is impossible to add to
these stark details [of Ethics practices on board] a convincing
of Hubbard's charisma'. It is impossible for Jon to see any convincing
picture of Hubbard's charisma: that is the whole point of his whole
book. That Jon cannot convince himself is a fact; that others around
Hubbard actually experienced his charisma is as certain a fact.
10. p.181. 'Hubbard released religious and military
fervors in his disciples'. Military, yes. Religious, hardly.
11. p.187. Jon says that people were overboarded
from the Prom Deck, 40 feet up from the water. I never saw such a
thing or heard of it; I was called to the ship in November 1968, well
after overboarding began. The claim needs verification by eyewitnesses
before I will accept it. Jon also says that people were blindfolded
and their feet and hands tied before they were thrown. This also I
seriously doubt. He further says that they were hurled 15 feet from
the quarterdeck. When I saw any overboarding, the quarterdeck gunwales
were opened; I would guess the distance from the deck level to the
water to be 9 to 10 feet. And he reports that people feared terribly
that they would fall against the hull of the ship and have their flesh
ripped open by barnacles. Some people may have had the fear; an
of the physical realities would have shown how ridiculous it was.
Jon seems eager to listen to any story that sensationalizes his
Chaos, Horror, and Confusion
12. p.187. He says that students on the Class VIII
course held on the ship wore a 'noose of rope' around their
necks. The term is 'lanyard'. I suppose that the word 'lanyard'
is not sensational enough and is too closely connected with the
innocence of the Boy Scouts.
13. p.188. Jon seems to be saying that I had said
that OT III and the Sea Org had transformed Hubbard into a screamingly
angry madman. I have never intended such an interpretation of anything
I might have said on the subject, not having meant to convey the
Jon chooses to see in it.
14. p.191. According to Jon, the Greek Government
received 'many complaints' about the ship and therefore took
action to send the ship away. He doesn't specify what is the number,
who reported, and what was reported, and when. I cannot accept as
a fact that the Greek Government received 'many complaints'
until the report is reliably verified. The phrase is an embroidery;
the important fact is that the Greek Government demanded that Hubbard
and his ship leave Corfu.
15. p.194. Jon says that John McMaster left the
C of S because he 'probably feared for his own safety'. Let's
remember that 'probably' is an expression of an opinion. In
justification of his opinion, Jon goes on to say that John Mac 'had
been overboarded several times, and the last time was left struggling
in the water for three hours with a broken collarbone'. That Jon
should give credence to such melodrama stretches my credence.
John Mac might have gone overboard as many as several times before
I got to the ship, but certainly wasn't after I had arrived there.
That he or anyone else would have been left in the water for three
hours is not credible to me. That he swam for three hours with a
collarbone and was left neglected in the water all that time is plain
16. p.196. Jon refers to 'several years of chainlocker
punishments and overboarding'. This is his imagination at work.
'The Royal Scotsman' was a Sea Org vessel from late 1967. She
left Corfu in March 1969. This is a period of about 17 months. After
she left Corfu, overboarding ceased. And, since she was so often
about, and using her anchors, so did imprisonment in the chain locker.
Jon did not check his facts.
17. p.196. The 'kitchen' staff (the seagoing
term is 'galley') worked disgraceful hours in the heat and
stench of the kitchens. So? We all worked disgraceful hours. Many
of us worked in the heat and stench below decks without benefit of
doors and portholes for fresh air - as had the galley. In seeking
sensationalism, Jon is willing to part from reality.
18. p.207. Jon raises the matter of the death of
Susan Meister, and strongly suggests that foul play caused it. I never
heard LRH mention foul play. By the time of this incident, we had
GO people on the ship, and that office took charge of the
and handling of her terrible end. If they had proof of foul play it
is conceivable that they would have withheld it - but not from
MSH and I doubt extremely that she would have withheld it from LRH.
It is possible that LRH would have withheld it from me.
I was involved unknowingly in Susan Meister's situation.
A week or so before her death, she had written to LRH asking his
for her to leave the ship and return home. At that time, his policy
on such was to refuse (it varied). I composed a reply to this effect
and included it in his mail for signature. He signed it. He was
put out when I reminded him of this - he had signed the reply
without reading it or its original request (and this was not unusual
practice for him - I should have known better). From then on,
I put a warning note on any similar reply composed for him to sign.
Further, on Susan Meister: Jon quotes some letters
she wrote home in high enthusiasm about Scientology and what she took
to be the mission of the Sea Org. He quotes them as examples of how
gullible SO members were. We had a number of people on the ship who
came without a great deal of education but with at least some
of street drugs (I don't know if Susan had a drug history or not;
she was certainly not well educated). Finding themselves on the ship,
and sometimes with menial jobs and very unattractive berthing, some
of them let their imaginations run wild, and their false enthusiasms
flap. Many of them graduated through that phase to some maturity and,
in some cases, great ability. I believe that Susan Meister was unable
to face the growth that staying on the ship challenged her to
I will always deeply regret that her cry came through me, and I
chose to adhere to the current policy rather than to hear her, listen
to her, and help her in compassion and good sense.
19. p.203. Jon states that officials in Morocco
in 1972 gave Hubbard 24 hours to leave the country. I did not hear
that. He showed up unexpectedly in Lisbon from Tangier where he had
been staying, and he came without MSH. Had there been any 24-hour
order to leave he would have brought her. My understanding of his
move was that he had to leave Morocco and Lisbon to avoid being
to stand trial in Paris. I arranged a flight for him and two
to New York; we booked him through to Chicago as a red herring. I
believe that the order to leave Morocco was issued to others after
he had left.
20. p.204. Jon again brings up that LRH 'continued
to insist' in 1972 that he did not benefit financially from
not being paid for his lectures nor having collected royalties on
his books. Strange as it is, I can confirm that LRH was telling the
truth. Up until LRH appointed Vicki Polimeni to be his personal LRH
Accounts (I think that was in 1973), I oversaw the disposition of
his income. His income consisted of his weekly paypacket (about $80,
if I remember aright) and his monthly VA checks ($84, I think). These
I put in his safe. There were years of VA checks and paypackets in
the safe. On the other hand, his personal expenses were paid through
ship and corporate accounts. Up until 1972, I did not see any
consumption at all, but of course only the accounts themselves will
tell. After 1973 he began to get very interested in money for himself,
but I was not privy to what went on between him and LRH Accounts or
anyone else on the subject. He certainly did control the large
accounts. I do not know that he used them for direct personal benefit.
I do remember him voicing frequently, in 1972 or 3, the complaint
that he had no money at his disposal for purely personal purposes.
21. p.205. Jon claims that during a refit, the crew
climbed into the ventilation shafts and cleaned them with
He omits to mention that in the cleaning of the shafts the crew in
them used bigger brushes, sponges, and cleaning cloths. Toothbrushes
we used for details. The whole crew was involved in cleaning the ship.
The larger members of the crew were not called on to squeeze
into ventilation shafts.
22. p.205. Jon reports LRH's motorbike accident
in the hills of Tenerife, and says that he walked back to the ship
after it. I am almost certain that he not only walked back to the
ship but walked back with his bike as well, and perhaps on the bike.
23. p.206. The RPF(1) was introduced by me, not by LRH. I designed it
myself, in response to an order from him to do something about the
people on board who were not, in his view, pulling their weight -
but had time to complain loudly. Jon says that the RPF was equivalent
to imprisonment; it was only slightly more so than being on the ship
in the first place. A person in the RPF could have left if he/she
had tried hard enough, just like anyone else on board; the RPF member
would probably have had to work at it a bit harder.
There are a few things about the original design
of the RPF that I now certainly think were wrong, and wish I had done
otherwise; in practice, on the ship at least, these things worked
themselves out well and eased my conscience. The principal one I have
in mind is that the RPF should be fed on the remains of the food given
to the general crew. This requirement was well within the traditions
of the Sea Org but nonetheless was wrong and unworkable. People have
to have decent food and enough of it. I also demanded that RPF people
not speak to any crew unless spoken to first. On the ship, this gave
way to the practical needs of working together, and nobody made any
fuss about it.
Off the ship, others set up RPFs. By all accounts,
some of these became sadly distorted. By that time, the
Byzantine(2) politics of the organization made my intervention
Whatever else one reads into the documents that set
up and formed the RPF on the ship, I don't see how one can miss that
the RPF (a) took people out of a highly enturbulated environment,
(b) gave them physical tasks to do that they could complete, task
by task, (c) encouraged them to do very good jobs of what they were
doing, (d) gave them plenty of time in which to study and deliver
auditing sessions of each other, (e) was intended to help them recover
their own morale (or, in some cases, find it for the first time),
(f) returned them to the regular crew.
That Jon can say that they spent all their time
'revealing their evil purposes' is ranting nonsense. In session, they
given all the rights of preclears everywhere. If there were evil
demanding handling they were addressed. There were technical fads
from time to time that might have included checking for evil purposes.
RPF members received tough Ethics handlings, yes. That was expected
I saw a lot of people improve their own conditions
markedly by working through the RPF on the ship. If some had a hard
time because of incorrect ethics or technical handling I hope they
have had or will have the opportunity to repair the damage completely.
24. p.206. Jon says of the RPF: 'This careful
imitation of techniques long-used by the military to obtain
obedience and immediate compliance to orders, or more simply to break
men's spirits, was all part of a ritual of humiliation for the Sea
Org member.' Here is another careful mix of fact and opinion according
to a recipe that tries to make a souffle out of bad eggs.
That the RPF was made by some an instrument of humiliation
is not questioned. Those doing so did it out of their own urges, not
mine, and not for long on the ship if I came to hear about it.
I do not believe that the RPF, even when so used,
broke anybody's spirit. The freedom of the street, the means
of escape, the opportunity to speak up and demand that one leave,
were always to hand. I can not accept that anyone was 'imprisoned'
against his or her own real will. I can accept that some were
so weak that they had not will enough to fight for their freedom,
and I regret that there was no-one near who listened, understood,
and addressed with compassion and common sense.
At no time was the RPF ever intended by me to break
men's spirits - quite the reverse. If another or others used
it for such a purpose, then let it be on their consciences; their
doing so was a violation of the documents on which the RPF was based.
Again, if it was so, I regret it.
The RPF was very easily used by some as a personnel
pool to fill holes that the regular channels of the organization had
failed to recruit people for. A delicate balancing act was required.
There were functions that the RPF was ideal to fulfill and their
them provided a real and valuable service to the organization, as
in food service and in cleaning. There were activities so large, and
so chaotically and stressfully organized that the RPF involvement
in them destroyed the purpose of the RPF, as in the renovations of
the Cedars Hospital buildings in Los Angeles. In the latter case,
the pressure on those assigned responsibility to complete the
was so great, and the RPF by its design so vulnerable to exploitation
(if not carefully shielded by senior management) that extremely
abuse of its members definitely occurred. In my view, unpardonably
so. As I have said above, I do not think that any permanent harm was
done to anyone. I do not see that anyone's spirit can have been
broken without the person's deliberate submission to the process.
As to obtaining 'unquestioning obedience and
immediate compliance to orders': this was to some extent part
and parcel of the approach which infused the entire Sea Organization.
However, the approach was naval rather than military, and had more
to do with the sea than with the Navy as such. Hubbard's idea was
that he would discipline people to work together to manage a ship.
As he said, the sea is a very hard taskmaster indeed. The sea punishes
sailors' mistakes by wrecking them and drowning them, both very
fates. There are right ways to manage ships in different conditions,
and wrong ways. Sailors have to learn the right ways and to execute
them correctly and at little or no warning. It was the spirit of the
sailors that LRH wanted to inculcate into Sea Org people, originally -
the spirit of having expertise at one's total command, the ability
to think quickly and sensibly on one's feet, the speed to move and
to change, courage to face difficulty, resourcefulness and initiative
with the willingness to give up individuality for the sake of the
group when the group needs it, and to fulfil the needs of the group
without hesitation when the group demands it. This is a spirit
that leaders have needed, wanted, and looked for, since the beginning
LRH achieved a significant degree of success, but
his partial success led to the failure of the whole endeavour. I
that the simple reason he failed is that he didn't run the process
on the group (a) with the correct and relevant leadership technology,
and (b) to full end result. He allowed himself to be sidetracked by
his own internal issues. Instead of a shining and supportive force,
he saddled himself with a bureaucratic and fanatic mess.
25. p.207. Madeira(3) and the rock-throwing: Jon says it started with
a taxi load of people and stones. Not so. The taxi came later. He
Capt. Bill Robertson turned the fire hoses on a small, defenseless,
and passive group. Not so. He says some crew threw back some stone
and bottles. I did not see this. He says that 'the Commodore marched
up and down in his battle fatigues yelling orders'. A complete
I first became aware of the 'invasion' when
I heard the noise of a small band of people, about 30 persons at a
guess, marching towards the dock. They arrived at the dock where
the ship moored at the time. Either at once or at some point, one
of them approached the end of the gangway still reaching from the
ship to the dock. I don't know if he was going to manhandle the
or come aboard. As he was about to put his hands on the gangway rails,
Bill Robertson ordered the firehose turned on him. I saw this with
my own eyes from the Prom Deck. I thought Bill R was a bit too hasty,
myself. Anyway, the fireworks then started - a hail of stones
hitting all over the ship from the dock. LRH and MSH stood together
on the port Prom Deck on the side away from the dock. LRH dressed
in his ordinary every-day gear. He stayed where he was, later moving
into the landing at the top of the internal stairs up to the Prom
Deck, in front of the door to his office. He did not yell anything
at all at any time to anyone. If he issued any orders to anyone he
did so very quietly and through his messengers. But I don't think
he sent any orders down to Bill Robertson by way of his messengers;
to get there they would have had to expose themselves to the
I was outside on the Prom Deck when I heard a scream from a female
crew member who had unwisely exposed her face. She had been hit on
the jaw by a rock. Together we scuttled on our haunches towards the
nearest opening to the ship's interior. We passed LRH and MSH, who
said nothing. I had someone take the woman down to the Medical
I don't know how they got there, but they did, without further
injury. The woman's jaw was found to be broken. In the general chaos,
the fight went on, but the protesters gained no foothold on the ship.
A fairly good account of the event, its evolution, and its culmination
is in R. Miller's 'Bare-Faced Messiah'. Jon seems not to have
read it or not to believe it.
Leaving the Mediterranean
26. p.208. Jon thinks that LRH decided to leave
the east Atlantic for the west because the Spanish and Portuguese
governments were against him. At no time during that period did I
hear or sense that he was under any pressure from outside the ship
to cross the Atlantic. Had there been such pressure MSH would have
been very busy on the subject, and she was fairly relaxed at the time.
In fact, it seemed to me that the sole pressure Hubbard was under
to cross the Atlantic was from his own wife, MSH. She spoke about
it rather frequently as a personal desire.
27. p.208. According to Jon, Hubbard, while crossing
the Atlantic, got word somehow that waiting at the dock to greet him
at Charleston was a large party of Federal agents. That word actually
came over the ship's radio-telephone and it came directly from Jane
Kember, the Guardian WW, to LRH and MSH.
28. p.209. Jon fancies that LRH chose the Fort Harrison
in Clearwater to move ashore into because of the town's name. This
is nonsense. We had been looking intensively for somewhere to move
to. He had rejected a number of properties, and time was running
The building in Clearwater seemed by far the best available so far,
and Hubbard more-or-less fell into it by default. The name of the
town had nothing at all to do with it. I don't think it hurt. At the
time, I didn't particularly take note of the significance of the name
of the town, and I didn't hear anyone else aboard talking about it
29. p.212. We moved into the Fort Harrison Hotel
in Clearwater under the auspices of United Churches, a front created
by Hubbard. Jon reports that at some point a spokesman for the
Church announced that the purchaser was the C of S. Jon omits that
a reporter had discovered that for himself and either was on the
point of publishing it or had just done so.
I was responsible for the discovery. When we arrived,
I was asked how the mimeo'd orders were to be signed. Hitherto
they had been signed on the authority of the C of S. I had this
One day, when some journalists were on a tour of the building,
one came across one of these mimeo'd orders in somebody's in-basked,
stole it, and published it. Had I had more sense, the United Churches
deception might have lasted a lot longer.
30. p.212. Jon points to LRH's 'increasingly
poor health and appearance', and to the 'large pointed lump
on his forehead'. LRH was not in tip-top health. To think of him
as an invalid is to go too far. He was a quite active man in his
with a deep reservoir of energy. His appearance was not that of a
man broken by illness, at all. His general image was less bright than
it had been earlier, true. He did not have a pointed lump on his
He did have an oval lump on his head just above the hairline at the
middle of the front. It was not unsightly. As his hair thinned it
became more obvious. He had talked of having it removed. I thought
it tended to lend him a certain distinction. I am biased, of course.
p.213. LRH's dynastic hopes were pinned on Quentin,
says Jon. LRH had put out lists from time to time showing who was
to succeed him on his demise. He not once showed any signs of handing
any power over to anyone. His relations with Quentin were not good.
Quentin was showing no signs of any interest in preparing to take
over the organization. Everybody accepted that in LRH's absence power
was and always would be invested in MSH. Nobody thought further
than that, that I know of.
Jon also states that Quentin was homosexual.
Looking back, I think this is a possibility. But I think Quentin had
not reached an age at which he could have made his own decision
on that subject. As a teenager, of course, he was making discoveries
about sexuality. I myself do not see Quentin as a latent homosexual.
I see him more as a teenager becoming aware of his different options,
and perhaps going through a stage of homoeroticism, such as many boys
do experience as they mature into manhood. However, I am not an
expert on any of this; I simply have my observations and experience
and out of them I do not conclude, as Jon does, that Quentin was in
fact homosexual. Jon's mention of it is to point up LRH's presumed
(and wished-for) discomfiture at his own son being so inclined.
Jon also reports Serge Gerbode's claim that Quentin
had attempted suicide before. As Jon doesn't mention Serge's source,
I think this must remain unverified gossip until proven otherwise.
I vaguely remember a rumour to that effect on the ship. Its source
led me to take no notice of it. If it did happen, the circumstances
of the attempt were not serious enough to raise any observable ripples
around his parents; those who were close to the parents were very
sensitive to all the ripples.
Having said my say on all the alleged discrepancies I wished to have
my say about, I have run out of space in which to add comments about
Hubbard and Ethics. With my editor's permission, I will address this
in my next article.
copyright: 2001 Kenneth G. Urquhart
(1) Rehabilitation Project Force.Ed.
5 resembling or suggesting the politics of ancient Byzantium;
by much scheming and intrigue. World Book Dictionary.
(3)In October 1974, when the ship
was at Madeira, some locals worked themselves up into a passion about
the Apollo. They came to the dock, made nuisances of themselves, and
the affair soon evolved into a battle. The youths on the dock threw
stones, and the ship's crew soaked them with the firehoses. Authors
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