The criminal cult of Scientology was attracting a lot of attention from federal authorities in the 1970s, so the cult devised an elaborate plan called Operation Snow White to determine what the U.S. government knew, destroy any negative evidence, and collect potential blackmail information if possible. By infiltrating several government agencies, the cult hoped to purge enough damning federal evidence that Scientology's reputation would appear as pure as Snow White herself.

The operation was carried out by the Guardian's Office, Scientology's equivalent of the CIA, over the course of many years in the 1970s. Cult operatives actually broke into offices of the FBI, IRS, and DOJ among others to steal or copy thousands of pages of information. In some situations, the cult had access to so many files that they would trick the government into revealing their most important Scientology documents by filing FOIA requests just to see what information the agencies would refuse to divulge. After obtaining the refusals, the cult would simply sneak into the agency after hours and copy the very same documents the government wouldn't release.

Operation Snow White was finally discovered when Michael Meisner, a high-ranking Guardian's Office member in charge of covert activities, surrendered to federal authorities in 1977. Meisner himself had infiltrated eleven government offices and had accumulated a ten-foot thick stack of federal files from his exploits.

In 1980, the government sentenced eleven Guardian's Office members to jail, including Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of cult leader L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard himself went into permanent hiding after being named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Operation Snow White case. Scientology tried to save face by disbanding the Guardian's Office and excommunicating the defendants, but it was mostly for show, since many Scientologists who were supposedly banished became part of a different Scientology covert operations wing called the Office of Special Affairs, which still exists today.

In addition to turning L. Ron Hubbard into a fugitive, Operation Snow White gave considerable momentum to the IRS's battle to keep Scientology from receiving tax-exempt status. Unfortunately, the OSA's non-stop campaign of expensive, organized attacks against the IRS wore the agency down to surrendering the tax exemptions to the cult in 1993.

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