Political Blackmail

Intelligence agents know all about political blackmail, which has been used by kingdoms, empires, syndicates, and unscrupulous groups since time immemorial. Indeed, throughout World War II and the Cold War, intelligence agents carefully watched for hints of subordination among their peers, because it was a tell-tale sign that they had been blackmailed. The CIA and State Department never knowingly hired homosexuals due to their susceptibility to blackmail.

Unfortunately, I ended up providing escorts to a CIA asset named Craig Spence who was a preeminent blackmail artist. His upscale DC home was fitted with state-of-the-art blackmail equipment that he used to blackmail our country’s elite. Spence told me that he was blackmailing the rich and powerful for the CIA, and he told newspaper reporters that “friendly” intelligence agents had installed the blackmail equipment that was scattered throughout his home. Spence had the ability to pull off mindboggling feats, and he was unscathed by law enforcement as he engaged in a myriad of illicit enterprises. And subsequent events would confirm that individuals at the pinnacle of power in the government protected him.

Blackmail is invariably practiced in the shadows, and the American people are oblivious to blackmail subverting their political system. The principle reason for Americans obliviousness to blackmail is that blackmailers and their blackmail targets never divulge such crimes. Blackmailers would be subjected to criminal prosecution and their blackmail targets would be subjected to either prosecution and/or persecution for the conduct that led them to be blackmailed in the first place. So political blackmail is almost never made public, and if it becomes public, then it occurs years after the fact.

Edgar Hoover is a prime example. He blackmailed people for decades, and his blackmailing only emerged years after his death. Hoover’s FBI recorded Martin Luther King having extramarital affairs, and it sent the recordings to King in an effort to blackmail him into committing suicide. Moreover, according to John F. Kennedy’s secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, Hoover had the dirt on Kennedy’s extramarital affairs and blackmailed him into accepting Lyndon Johnson as his running mate in 1960. Kennedy didn’t particularly like Johnson, and he planned on tapping Missouri senator Stuart Symington for his vice presidential running mate. Hoover’s purported blackmail of Kennedy changed the course of history.

Ironically, several accounts have since emerged that the Mafia was blackmailing J. Edgar Hoover, because he was a homosexual, which is one of the reasons why Hoover said the Mafia didn’t exist until there was overwhelming evidence of its existence. There’s a precedent for blackmail in relatively recent U.S. history.

Recent government whistleblowers have also discussed the blackmailing of American politicians. Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator, has disclosed that the FBI routinely collected information that enables it to blackmail American politicians. NSA whistleblowers Russell Tice and Bill Binney have also disclosed that the NSA has collected information on American politicians that could be used for blackmail.

The media has reported on some information provided by Edmonds, Tice, and Binney. In fact, Tice was one of the sources for the New York Times articles in 2005 that reported on the NSA’s illegal data mining of Americans. However, the mainstream media has refused to report on their allegations regarding the potential blackmailing of American politicians. I provided escorts to various people in the media, so I believe that people in media may have also fallen prey to being compromised by government agencies.

Republican Senator Larry Craig made headlines when he attempted to solicit sex in a public restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and I feel that he is an example of a politician who was most likely compromised. Craig was in Washington, D.C. for nearly 30 year as a U.S. representative and a senator. Given Craig’s status as a conservative Republican, if word of his shadow life leaked out, it would result in political suicide and public disgrace, but his runaway libido compelled him to take mind-boggling risks.

I find it nearly impossible to believe that Craig’s homosexual exploits were unnoticed by the blackmail ring that I provided with escorts, because I provided Craig with escorts too, and the ring was well aware of my patrons. I’m also of the belief that the foremost explanation that can be offered concerning Craig’s brazen exploits with regards to his homosexuality is that he was compromised, and he was mindful that his brazen exploits would be covered up. Perhaps Craig strayed out of his protective net when he attempted to solicit sex in a public restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport?

Henry Vinson: Scapegoat – Part 4

Given the onslaught of erroneous press I’ve received over the years, I’m reluctant to ascribe inordinate intelligence to many in the media, but common sense would dictate that a veteran CBS correspondent could distinguish a bug from a “button-release” on a table. But, perhaps, because of the skeptical guest’s expertise on “architecture and furnishings,” he or she was able to provide the Post with the definitive truth?

And once more, the Post relayed the unequivocal truth from the perspective of the skeptical guest: “Spence confronted them later that night. ‘I heard every word you said,’ Gordon recalls Spence saying. ‘You’re conspiring against me. I’ve got this corner bugged.’ And then he pointed to the ceiling. ‘There was never a bug hanging over Professor Gordon’s head,’ says the same skeptical guest, who was also at that party. Another person there says that it was so obvious that Gordon and Trotta were gossiping about Spence all night he would not have needed bugs to guess what they were saying.”

After the Post deployed the skeptical guest and “another person” to debunk the fact that Spence’s house was bugged for blackmail, it descended into a rather absurd commentary: “Some believe that Spence may have been up to something with the electronic equipment that friends observed in the house. But Spence’s clairvoyance, it seems, was strongest when his bodyguards were present and within earshot of the supposedly bugged conversations.”

So now the Post acknowledged that Spence had “electronic equipment” in his home, even though in the preceding paragraph it had asserted that the bug uncovered by Trotta was, in actuality, a button-release on a table. The Post wanted to have its cake and eat it too by conceding that Spence had electronic equipment in his home, but ridiculing the fact that his home was bugged for blackmail.

And the Post’s remark about Spence’s “clairvoyance” being heightened when his bodyguards were within “earshot” was rather disingenuous too. The Post doesn’t question why Spence had a need for bodyguards. But in all likelihood, Spence needed constant protection, because he was the point man for blackmailing some of the most powerful men in the country—powerful men who almost certainly had access to their own thugs. Given Spence’s penchant for blackmailing the powerful, I think his longevity had the potential to be violently curtailed if his private Praetorian Guard didn’t vigilantly safeguard him.

Later in the article, the Post described Spence’s bodyguards as “clean-cut college guys who also tended bar, parked cars and drove Spence around. Spence later started hiring Army men and Marines, especially large, well-built ones.” I’m aware of Spence collecting bodyguards from the military, but the article made no mention of Spence’s bodyguards being pulled from the ranks of the Secret Service, even though the Washington Times had been meticulous about nailing down that Spence had Secret Service agents moonlighting as his bodyguards.

The Post’s “The Shadow World of Craig Spence” portrayed him as a high society bottom feeder who was more of name-dropper than a powerbroker with high powered connections, and the article also attempted to dispel the notion that he was affiliated with the CIA. The article caricaturized Spence by having his friends discuss his rants of self-importance and name-dropping, which wouldn’t be too difficult because he was a coke-head and megalomaniac. After the Post made Spence appear as a mere cartoon character it dropped in the following paragraph: “Like the tales of espionage, the allegations about bugging were a regular subject of discussion among his friends. And again, they got their information from him [Spence].”

A week after the Washington Post demolished the Washington Times’ reportage on Spence’s illicit activities, I found myself in the Post’s character assassination crosshairs. The Post reported a series of lies that made me appear as a conniving villain who had conspired to cartelize D.C. prostitution as if I were the Richard III of gay escorts.

A later article by the Post conscripted the Los Angeles Times and New York Times to jump on its bandwagon. “’We checked into it; we sent reporters out when they raided the house in February and again when they had the eviction,’ said the Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. ‘We never did turn up with anything that looked like a national story.’”

After the Post quoted the Los Angeles Times bureau chief, the New York Times’ D.C. bureau chief endorsed the Post’s spin. “’I don’t take the Washington Times seriously as a journalistic entity, so I view with suspicion almost anything that they do,’ he said. ‘I don’t deny a raid on this house and that there’s obviously some kind of investigation going on. But so far I haven’t seen any evidence that it means what they say it means.”

In addition to the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post buttressed its propaganda campaign with sources that were delighted to reinforce its disinformation—government sources. The Post wrote of its first government source: “…a key law enforcement official came to lunch at the Post and assured the staff that the investigation was primarily on credit card fraud.” As I recall, several administration officials, including the U.S. attorney general, were telling the media that Watergate was much ado about nothing, so I find it perplexing that the Post was all ears about non-existence of Spence’s blackmail enterprise, but it was vehement when contesting the administration’s official position about Watergate.

The Secret Service, the Justice Department, and the Washington Post did a masterful job of making me a scapegoat for all the illicit activities committed Craig Spence and his cronies. In retrospect, when that much power is deployed to obfuscate the truth, I didn’t have a chance of being anything other than a scapegoat.

Henry Vinson: Scapegoat – Part 3

As the Washington Times bore deeper and deeper into the enigma of Spence, I was astonished to read about the eddies of his sordid life in black and white—on the front-page of a newspaper. The levy of lies that had suppressed the truth about Spence for years was starting crumble, and I pondered its implications for me. I felt that it would be difficult for the government to cover up Spence’s illicit activities now that the toothpaste was out of the tube. I also had a tendency to think that the government wouldn’t take a chance on indicting me, because a trial would only publicize Spence’s complicity with high-ranking federal officials and his connections to the Secret Service and perhaps even the CIA.

The Washington Post commenced a counteroffensive against the Washington Times. The first blast of disinformation perpetrated by the Washington Post was a protracted article, “The Shadow World of Craig Spence,” published about two weeks after the Washington Times began to expose Spence’s blackmail operation, and it was a concerted effort to dismantle the Washington Times reportage on Spence. The article mocked the earlier headline floated by the Washington Times—”Power Broker Served Drugs, Sex at Parties Bugged for Blackmail”—by providing the veritable, unadulterated truth about Spence’s get-togethers: “People sat around in a perimeter after dinner discussing trade policy, where American policy makers were ushered into circles of foreign visitors to make serious talk; parties to which Koppel would sometimes send a stand-in; parties so dull that even Dossier magazine wouldn’t run the photographs.”

The Post’s “The Shadow World of Craig Spence” also dismantled the idea that Spence’s house was bugged for blackmail, but its hatchet job was transparently disingenuous. The Post deployed a contrivance it coined the “skeptical guest” to debunk the notion that Spence’s home had clandestine surveillance. The Post’s “skeptical guest” was an unnamed source, and the Post even neglected to mention the source’s gender or his or her relationship to Spence.

According to the Post, the “skeptical guest” was in attendance at a party in Spence’s D.C. home when a friend of Spence’s, CBS correspondent Liz Trotta, “got down on her hands and knees in the living room and found wires and cables all over the room at floor level. She also found metal fasteners that could have been listening devices, she says, clipped to the bottom of a coffee table. A skeptical guest who witnessed this—who was familiar with the architecture and furnishings—said that one of the so-called bugs was a button-release on the table and that to his knowledge, there were no bugs.”

 

Henry Vinson: Scapegoat – Part 2

The government’s cover up and also its scapegoating of me wouldn’t have been possible without an assist from the media, specifically the Washington Post. Ironically, the conservative Washington Times sincerely attempted to shed a light on the tsunami of corruption and malfeasance that would overwhelmed me by a series of articles that illuminated the blackmail operation of DC powerbroker Craig Spence who utilized my escorts to compromise our country’s elite.

On June 30th, 1989, the Washington Times launched a story about Craig Spence’s blackmail enterprise that was complemented by a banner headline: “Power Broker Served Drugs, Sex At Parties Bugged For Blackmail.” The article’s first sentence certainly summed up some of my experiences with Spence: “Craig J. Spence, an enigmatic figure who threw glittery parties for key officials of the Reagan and Bush administrations, media stars and top military officers, bugged the gatherings to compromise guests and spent up to $20,000 a month on male prostitutes, according to friends, acquaintances and records.”

The article quoted various sources who were cognizant of Spence’s DC home being wired for clandestine surveillance. Three of the people in the know included a “former bodyguard,” a former “Reagan administration official,” and a “friend” of Spence’s who discussed Spence “spying on guests” through the eight-foot two-way mirror in his living room. The article quoted a fourth individual, a “business associate” of Spence’s, who said of Spence: “He was taping and blackmailing people.”

The article also alluded to Spence’s CIA connections, noting a “businessman” who dealt with Spence told reporters that Spence often bragged that he worked for the CIA. Spence would tell Washington Times reporters that the CIA employed him, and the newspaper would eventually have intelligence sources confirm that Spence was indeed a CIA asset. Moreover, Spence later told the Washington Times that “friendly” intelligence agents had installed the blackmail equipment in his home.

The Washington Times articles on Spence validated that he spent up to $20,000 a month for escorts, his home was wired for blackmail, Secret Service agents moonlighted as his bodyguards, and at least one Secret Service agent gave Spence late night access to the White House with an escort in tow. The newspaper confirmed many of the events that I had witnessed firsthand.

The Washington Times eventually named a number of the powerbrokers who attended Spence’s soirées. His guests were a veritable who’s who from the media and politics. Media pundits such as Eric Sevareid, Ted Koppel, and William Safire were in attendance at Spence’s parties. High-flying politicians—including Senators John Glenn of Ohio and Frank Murkowski of Alaska—attended his get-togethers too. Spence’s home was also a lure for various Republican movers and shakers, attracting former ambassadors Robert Neumann, Elliott Richardson, and James Lilly. Then-CIA Director William Casey and John Mitchell, the disgraced former attorney general under Richard Nixon, were personal friends of Spence who frequented his soirées.

Although Spence’s home was a magnet for D.C. elites, I don’t necessarily think everyone who graced his parties was compromised. But on the other hand, many of Spence’s partygoers were lubricated on alcohol before they had illicit drugs and a wide variety of sexual playmates, including children, dangled in front of them. If his partygoers succumbed to their temptations, they were undoubtedly compromised. An individual merely discussing illegal activities in Spence’s home—like me—had the potential to be compromised.

The Washington Post and the CIA: A Love Story

I believe, unequivocally, that some dark corner of the CIA sanctioned Craig Spence’s blackmail operation. He told me that he was affiliated with the CIA, and he disclosed to me that CIA operatives had bugged his home for audio-visual blackmail. The Washington Times also found corroboration that Spence was a CIA asset. Spence even told Washington Times reporters that “friendly” intelligence agents had bugged his home. The Washington Post, however, did everything in its considerable power to paint Spence as delusional and nullify his connections to the CIA.

I’ve had years, in and out of prison, to ponder Washington Post’s cover up of Spence’s crimes. I’m not a “conspiracy theorist,” but rather I’m someone who was placed near the epicenter of sprawling conspiracy by the vagaries of fate. In an earlier post, I think I’ve demonstrated that the Washington Post aided and abetted the government’s cover up of Spence’s enterprise, and over the years I’ve come across a very interesting relationship between the Washington Post and the CIA as I’ve attempted to understand the conspiracy that engulfed me.

Shortly after the CIA was formed in 1948, the agency initiated Operation Mockingbird, which was a campaign to influence popular perception through various front organizations and the media. Frank Wisner, head of the CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination, oversaw Operation Mockingbird, and Wisner boasted that he was the maestro of a “mighty Wurlitzer” that was “capable of playing any propaganda tune he desired.”

The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, published by Harvard University Press, provides a sweeping overview of Operation Mockingbird. But a second book, Katharine the Great, written by former Village Voice journalist Deborah Davis, is a biographical sketch of Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, and it focuses specifically on the clandestine connections between the CIA and Washington Post. According to Katharine the Great and numerous sources, the CIA’s Frank Wisner tapped then-Washington Post publisher Philip Graham to be the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird point man to infiltrate the media.

In Katherine the Great, Davis quoted a former CIA agent who discussed meetings between CIA personnel and Philip Graham in which they conferred about the availability and prices of journalists: “You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month.” (I’ve often heard the comparison between journalists and prostitutes, but I think that comparison potentially denigrates the profession of prostitution. Most prostitutes aren’t willing to destroy a life to turn a trick, but many journalists will handily destroy a life to land a story—even if the story is about trivial nonsense.)

“By the early 1950s,” Davis wrote in Katharine the Great, “Wisner ‘owned’ respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS, and other communications vehicles, plus stringers, four to six hundred in all, according to a former CIA analyst.” Davis also noted that Philip Graham stocked the Washington Post with writers and editors who had “intelligence backgrounds.”

In addition to spotlighting the relationship between the CIA and Philip Graham, Davis examined the connections between the CIA and Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post’s executive editor from 1968 to 1991. Bradlee was the executive editor of the Post during the newspaper’s exposure of Watergate and also when it covered up Spence’s network. Bradlee has been portrayed as the Post’s salty editor who spurred on the “boys’”—Woodward and Bernstein’s—quest for truth as they toppled the Nixon administration. But Davis reported on a different side of former naval intelligence officer Ben Bradlee.

Bradlee was a descendant of Boston bluebloods, and he landed at the Washington Post as a young reporter in 1948. After three years at the Post, Davis reported that Phillip Graham pulled a few strings to help Bradlee become a press attaché stationed at the U.S. embassy in Paris. While in France, Bradlee developed a number of overt, yet interesting, ties to the CIA. He divorced his first wife and married Antoinette Pinchot, whose sister was married to CIA agent Cord Meyer. Davis asserts Meyer was a “principal operative” in Operation Mockingbird. Bradlee’s French wife was also a close friend of the CIA’s James Jesus Angleton who at the time was responsible for the collection of foreign intelligence in Europe. Angleton was later chief of the CIA’s Counterintelligence for more than twenty years.

I’ve personally experienced guilt by association, and I’ve concluded that it’s often an ill-fated formula for speculation. But in the first printing of Katharine the Great, Davis wrote that Bradlee “produced CIA material” when he was a press attaché in Paris. According to Davis, Bradlee churned out CIA propaganda regarding the Rosenbergs’ case as a response to the French newspaper, Le Monde, which ran a story declaring that the U.S. had framed Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were the couple accused of imparting A-bomb secrets to the Soviets and sentenced to death. The Le Monde article outraged the CIA chief in Paris, because the agency was having difficulties selling the Cold War to a European public who feared that the McCarthy witch-hunts were ushering in a new wave of fascism.

After Bradlee read Katharine the Great, he quickly dispatched a threatening letter to Davis’ publisher Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, one of the largest book publishers in the world. Bradlee’s letter made some very unbecoming statements about Davis: “Miss Davis is lying … I never produced CIA material … what I can do is to brand Miss Davis as a fool and to put your company in that special little group of publishers who don’t give a shit for the truth.”

William Jovanovich, president and CEO of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, apparently didn’t want to be branded in that “little group of publishers who don’t give a shit for the truth” by one of the most powerful newspapers in the country, so he ordered 20,000 copies of Katharine the Great to be destroyed, even though the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich catalog announced that Katharine the Great would be their top non-fiction selection and the publisher even nominated the book for an American Book Award. After Jovanovich turned 20,000 of Katharine the Great into pulp, he received a letter from none other than Graham (AKA, Katherine the Great): “The whole theme of the book is so fanciful,” wrote Katharine Graham, “that it defies serious discussion: that Ben, Phil (her deceased husband), and others worked for the CIA . . .”

Davis sued Harcourt Brace for breach of contract. The case was eventually settled, and the rights for the book reverted back to Davis, but she couldn’t find a major publisher who had the nerve to flirt with Katharine the Great. Finally, about seven years later, a small publisher in D.C. republished the book. In the interim, Davis sent several Freedom of Information Act requests to the government and landed some interesting documentation from the State Department about the fact that Bradlee “produced CIA material.”

The State Department documents uncovered by Davis stated that three days after the Le Monde article appeared, the Paris CIA chief dispatched Bradlee to New York to collect materials from the federal prosecutors on the Rosenberg case, so the CIA could mount a counter-offensive in the European press. Bradlee ultimately wrote a 30,000-word rundown and analysis of the government’s case against the Rosenbergs with the CIA’s topspin.

After Bradlee’s tenure as a press attaché in Europe, he became a Paris-based foreign correspondent for Newsweek. I’ve already mentioned Davis reporting that the CIA’s Wisner said he “owned” several media outlets, including Newsweek. In 1957, Bradlee returned to the United States, and he continued to write for Newsweek as a Washington bureau correspondent.

Bradlee’s career at Newsweek took an upward but enigmatic twist in 1961. The cover story purports that Newsweek was up for sale, and Bradlee made a late night phone call to a man he barely knew—Philip Graham—and inquired if Graham wanted to purchase Newsweek. It just so happened that Graham thought it was an outstanding idea, and seventeen days later he shelled out $15 million to acquire Newsweek. He then made Bradlee Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief. After Graham’s suicide in 1963, Graham’s widow eventually bestowed the title of managing editor of the Washington Post on Bradlee in 1965. (Interestingly, Frank Wisner committed suicide two years after Philip Graham.)

Rolling Stone published a 1977 article about the CIA’s infiltration of the media that was penned by Carl Bernstein. The Bernstein article was published in the wake of the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee hearings that investigated a plethora of domestic and foreign crimes committed by the CIA. Although Bernstein wrote his Rolling Stone article under the auspices of uncovering the Church Committee’s cover up between the CIA and media, I believe it’s within the realm of reason that Bernstein’s article covered up the Washington Post’s links to the CIA. Bernstein’s Rolling Stone article made no mention of Bradlee’s ties to the CIA, and, in fact, almost exonerates the Washington Post staff of any ties to the CIA: “All editors‑in‑chief and managing editors of the Post since 1950 say they knew of no formal Agency relationship with either stringers or members of the Post staff. ‘If anything was done it was done by Phil without our knowledge,’ said one. Agency officials, meanwhile, make no claim that Post staff members have had covert affiliations with the Agency while working for the paper.”

Given Philip Graham’s zealous overtures to ingratiate the CIA with numerous media corporations and publications, and his padding the ranks of the Washington Post with former intelligence officers, I feel it broaches absurd to think that he didn’t avail the Washington Post to the CIA’s endeavors.

Ironically, if it were not for the conservative Washington Times with its neo-religious, anti-homosexual slant, I would have zero corroboration about the blackmail enterprise of Spence et al. I forgot to mention that the Reverend Sun Myung Moon owned the Washington Times, and I think it’s a rather sad commentary on the American media when a Moonie-owned media outlet is the only news source providing Americans with the truth about a blackmail enterprise that’s subverting their political system.

Henry Vinson: Scapegoat – Part 1

Scapegoating is often defined as a hostile discrediting by which people move blame and responsibility away from themselves and towards a target person or group. The scapegoat target invariably receives misplaced vilification, blame and criticism. Scapegoating always includes a distortion of the facts. As a DC madam, I was privy to the blackmailing of our country’s power elite and also to a pedophile network that provided children to the rich and powerful. These sinister machinations had to be covered up at all costs, and I was the convenient scapegoat. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My scapegoating started when the Secret Service raided my house. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Jay Stephens, told the media that Washington D.C.’s Metro Police learned of my escort service, because a “local hotel” complained about suspected prostitution activities, and the Secret Service only became involved in the case to assist D.C.’s Metro Police Department in its investigation of credit card fraud. In reality, Secret Service agents were part and parcel of the blackmail operation that had ensnared various powerbrokers and also me, so the Secret Service spearheaded the investigation as a means of damage control. U.S. Attorney Stephens’ remarks would begin the distortions of reality that made me the scapegoat of a sprawling government cover up.

The next phase of me becoming a scapegoat was perpetrated by the Department of Justice when it convened a grand jury to “investigate” my escort service and me. Although “grand jury” has an authoritative ring—like the gods on Mount Olympus have sent down a decree—the grand jury process is notoriously susceptible to manipulation. Unlike a standard trial, grand juries aren’t open to the public, and the identity of the witnesses who testify and their testimony are never disclosed. The special prosecutor of a grand jury calls the witnesses, questions the witnesses, and selects the evidence that is shown to the grand jurors, who are everyday citizens who have shown up for jury duty and have been funneled to a grand jury. A former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals once quipped that prosecutors have so much control over grand juries that they could convince grand jurors to “indict a ham sandwich,” and the federal grand jury investigating me was a ham and Swiss on rye.

The grand jury that investigated me didn’t indict the architects of the blackmail operation and pedophile network, nor did it indict the Secret Service agents who participated in the blackmail operation. Instead the grand jury walloped me with a 43-count RICO indictment. When all the RICO indictments were tallied up, I was staring at 295 years in a federal prison. The grand jury walloped me with a lifetime behind bars, so it could ultimately leverage my silence, because I had witnessed events that could have jeopardized the George H.W. Bush administration and ultimately the Bush dynasty.

 Going Clear: My Bizarre Scientology Odyssey  

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Alex Gibney’s latest documentary, made its jaw dropping debut at the Sundance Film Festival last month. The film is an expose of Scientology’s sinister intrigues against its nonconforming adherents and those who speak out against the “church.”

Scientology has certainly left an indelible imprint on me, because I spent time in its brainwashing machine, but I had the good fortune of being deposited in a federal prison before its brainwashing machine hit the spin cycle and my mind was irrevocably cleansed.

Although my life is abounding with rather bizarre impasses, my odyssey to Scientology was indeed bizarre—even by my standards. The Department of Justice swarmed me with a 43-count RICO indictment for my role as a DC madam, and I was staring at a bewildering 295 years in prison. The Justice Department had made me the scapegoat of a sprawling conspiracy whose primary objective was the blackmailing of politicians and sundry powerbrokers.

Greta Van Susteren was my attorney, and I sincerely hoped that she would allay the government’s zealous prosecution of me. As my case was wending through the federal courts, Van Susteren disclosed to me that she was a Scientologist. I had never met a Scientologist before, so I was both surprised and intrigued by her disclosures about Scientology.

So in 1991, I found myself on an Oklahoma-bound flight to Scientology’s Narconon rehab, which was located near Newkirk, Oklahoma. Although I’ve never suffered from chemical dependency, I had a well-founded distrust of the government’s intent. So I hoped that graduating from Scientology’s Narconon program would demonstrate to my trial judge, Judge Greene, that I had made an assiduous effort to turn around my life, and I would receive lenient sentencing from him even if the government reneged on its proposed agreement with me.

Narcanon was housed on the campus of a former boarding school for Native American children that closed in the early 1980s. The campus’ yellow limestone buildings were like an archipelago of civilization on the remote, sprawling prairies of Oklahoma. My ensuing months at Narconon would essentially be the saga of the D.C. madam meets L. Ron Hubbard.

Upon my arrival, I was quickly drenched in the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. I initially had great difficulties digesting the Scientology dogmas. According to Hubbard, an alien overlord named Xenu was in charge of a “Galactic Confederacy” 75 million years ago that consisted of 76 planets, including earth. Xenu’s planetary confederation was desperately overcrowded, so Xenu devised a genocidal plan. He lured billions of the confederation’s citizens to government offices under the pretense of a tax inspection, and he dosed them with paralyzing drugs and flew them to earth, where they were murdered. The souls or “thetans” of the murdered aliens were then captured and brainwashed, and they eventually incarnated as earthlings.

Although Scientology’s theology initially struck me as outright psychotic, I found the staff nonjudgmental and compassionate, and Narconon was a welcome respite from the unrelenting heat I had faced at the hands of the government in DC. Shortly after my arrival at Narconon, I was assigned an “auditor,” who would be the recipient of my deepest and darkest secrets. The auditing process is designed to “clear” Scientologists of their “engrams,” which are mental impressions of traumatic events. The auditor records the details associated with an engram, and Scientologists believe that this confession process diffuses the engram’s negative effects on our lives.

Believe it or not, I actually started to enjoy my hiatus among the Scientologists. The human experience can be fraught with grueling circumstances, and people often grope for credos or belief systems that will gift-wrap their problems with a tidy bow and offer novel solutions. I think that most people experience excruciating traumas and gridlocks in their lives that leave them highly susceptible to various alternative belief systems or cults. At that particular time in my life, I faced an existential crisis that seemed insurmountable and hopeless, and, groping for relief, I was highly susceptible to the pat solutions offered by the doctrines of Scientology.

Scientology eventually declared that I was cleared of engrams, but the federal government had yet to decide if I were cleared of imprisonment. A federal probation officer flew out to Oklahoma and conducted a pre-sentence interview, and a few weeks later my pre-sentence report arrived in the mail. I read the report in my dormitory room, sitting on my bed. It recommended a sentence between 63 and 78 months in a federal prison! When I read the presentence report, I was stunned and overwhelmed by dread. A prison stint of five or six years was, apparently, an engram that had yet to be thoroughly cleared, and I immediately phoned Van Susteren. She said that the Justice Department had ruled that I had provided “substantial assistance,” and she assured me that I would receive a downward departure from the recommendations in the pre-sentence report.

Judge Greene set June 12th as my sentencing date, so I flew back to D.C. on June 11th. My mother met me at D.C.’s Washington National Airport, and we spent the night at my aunt’s house in Maryland. The next morning, I donned a blue Brooks Brother’s suit, white shirt, and a blue tie, and I rendezvoused in the kitchen with my mother and aunt. After breakfast, I drove my mother’s car to the courthouse.

Despite my substantial cooperation and Van Susteren’s assurances, Judge Greene slapped me with a 63-month sentence. In retrospect, however, I caught a fortuitous break from Judge Greene, because Scientology had nearly purloined my mind, and five years in a federal prison is preferable to a lifetime sentence of Scientology.