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Scientology’s 2012 in Review: Debbie Cook Makes Us Remember the Alamo

SiegeAlamoWe’re looking back at this amazing year for Scientology watchers, and over the next several days we’re going to refresh your memory about what got our attention in 2012.

Of course, one of the things that made this year so memorable was the level of involvement of our commenting community, and we hope you have plenty to say as we look back at the stories that mattered in the past twelve months.

On February 9, one of the most remarkable single days Scientology has ever spent in a courtroom took place down in San Antonio, Texas.

We were there, and provided live coverage as former church executive Debbie Cook testified about how she had been treated in Scientology’s notorious office-prison, known as “the Hole.”

Also known as the “SP Hall,” some offices at Scientology’s International Base east of Los Angeles had been turned into a strange sort of concentration camp for the organization’s top tier of executives, starting at the beginning of 2004. Some officials, like Mike Rinder, spent years in the Hole. Debbie Cook testified that she’d sent seven hellish weeks in the place, sleeping on the floor in stifling heat, eating slop three times a day, and only getting out once every morning for a shower.

Rinder and Cook both said that their days were filled with mass confessions as church leader David Miscavige tried to get admissions of guilt out of his executives, even if they were outlandish. When two men were beaten in order to get them to confess that they were gay lovers, Cook spoke up about it. Her punishment? She was put in a trash can, where she was made to stand for 12 hours as the others walked around her, shouting at her and taunting her, calling her a lesbian, and dumping cold water on her.

Cook also testified that she saw a man in Los Angeles object to the way people were being treated, and he was then made to lick a bathroom floor for half an hour.

It was shocking testimony and a spectacular reversal in a case the church had brought against its former employee because she had dared, in a mass e-mail, to question the direction of her church under its leader, David Miscavige. The next day, Scientology’s lawyers raised the white flag and gave up on their request for a temporary injunction. But the case was not yet over.

After Cook’s day in court, we wondered how Scientology’s celebrities could put up with the kind of treatment of its employees that was described in her testimony. So we wrote an open letter to Tom Cruise. He still hasn’t answered us.

Also in February:

— We got a rare interview with a former employee of the Church of Spiritual Technology, the most secretive of Scientology entities, which digs vaults around the country to store L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings against nuclear attack. We also provided maps to all of the present CST locations.

— In February, Scientology began a network television ad campaign in a big way. We broke down their slick 2-minute ad, and exposed its five biggest lies.

— We wrote about Ohio State professor Hugh Urban’s fascinating new article on the connection between L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology and the “magicks” of his mentor, the occultist Aleister Crowley. Urban found stunning parallels between the two, making it more plain than ever that Hubbard lifted most of his ideas from other people.

— We had some fun with David Miscavige’s favorite activity, posing at Ideal Org openings.

And finally, on the last day of the month, we reported that Debbie Cook was countersuing as things continued to sizzle down in San Antone.

Tomorrow: Springtime for Miscavige (March-June), the calm before the storm!
 

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  • John P.

    What’s most important about the Debbie Cook trial to outsiders is not the testimony about the Hole, which many escapees from Int Base had confirmed in numerous credible accounts, but the bizarre legal maneuvering leading up to the trial. The cult won a sort of victory in its initial filing, an emergency injunction preventing the Cook’s from even discussing the case with each other, and (on the face of the order, at least) discussing the case with an attorney.

    But the publication of the trail of correspondence in Tony’s Village Voice blog between the attorneys in near real time was, I think, the real news. It showed several keys to the cult’s litigation strategy. First was the bizarre contention that the defendants should not be allowed to give an opening statement because it would somehow reveal confidential information, or otherwise prejudice the trial against the cult. The judge quickly saw what was happening and wouldn’t bite on the motion to hobble what is essentially the fundamental right of any defendant: to mount a coherent defense. Ironically, the cult’s attorneys would, earlier this month, be essentially barred from mounting a defense in the Narconon Georgia case, due to repeated and blatant lying during discovery on the part of the organization’s director.

    Second was the backfiring of the cult’s strategy of intimidating everyone associated with the defense. Debbie’s attorney, Ray Jefferey, was a former mayor of the small suburb (population approximately 6,000) where he lives and practices. Presumably, he’d be on first name terms with the chief of police and even many of the officers of the force. For the cult to overlook this detail, and to proceed with intimidating a former official, is the height of stupid, since he could easily have the police demand identification from suspicious characters, directly implicating the cult. That wasn’t necessary, since the case didn’t drag on too long, but the near real-time publication of the correspondence between Mr. Jefferey and the plaintiff’s counsel revealing the surveillance had to embarrass the cult and seemed likely to be a factor in the escalating local and national press coverage of the event.

    I believe that the Debbie Cook case led to the bizarre (and mercifully brief) ad campaign. One of the key charges in Debbie’s e-mail was that the cult no longer “disseminated,” and that part of this was that there were no more TV ads, like the ubiquitous late-night “volcano” ads selling copies of Dianetics. As I noted at the time, the campaign that ran, a single two-minute commercial on American Idol (gosh, it seems a lifetime ago that that show was the hottest thing on TV), and single insertions on a couple of other popular shows, was not designed to be effective, since the key to any ad campaign is repetition. Given the time frame from the publication of Debbie’s e-mail to the appearance of the ads, the cult had to pay substantially above the going rate to buy the air time from other advertisers on the hottest show on TV. Thus, I estimated that a two-minute spot (an extraordinarily premium and unusual type of ad buy) cost well above the “list price” of $2.4 million; I thought the whole campaign cost at least $10 million in media buys alone, perhaps more. That is an extraordinary expense to refute a single claim of a single e-mail from a single “bitter defrocked apostate.” But the fact that cult leader David Miscavige saw fit to spend well over $10 million on such a narrow issue to keep his flock in line raised the specter of desperation in the halls of Int Base over dwindling membership and over the power of individual defectors to communicate with those still in the cult, despite the specter of disconnection that looms large over the heads of many who risk everything in the world (friends, family, business income) if they disobey. The increasing ineffectiveness of the cult’s normal mechanisms to convince its deluded followers that everything is hunky-dory in Scientology-land and to keep them donating is perhaps the biggest news of the year, and is the biggest reason that 2012 marked the acceleration of the decline.

    • I would also point out that the ad campaign was a failure for another reason. I recall chat rooms for American Idol were lighting up after the ad ran. People were tearing Scientology a new one, searching the net, finding the truth and reposting it in the chat rooms or other relevant social media. I just don’t see the cult being able to use that type of advertising anymore. In fact it can only hurt them at this point.

      The other thing I love is that Debbie won. I don’t know what settlement she came to with Cult Central HQ but the effects of her email are still felt today. I keep hearing from recent defectors who say that they followed that story and connected with her email. I can’t say this enough, it is vital that ex-members keep telling their stories. Hubbard clearly understood the danger of communication and instituted SP Declares, Disconnection, Entheta and other forms of dumbing people down while in the most Orwellian sense calling it all Communication! The recent videos that Tiziano did (in my opinion) will have a bigger impact than anyone can currently assess. They have former high ranking members and very public faces for their group openly mocking Scientology in solidarity with each other. It says not only that it is ok, it is fun and you are not alone in expressing you disgust at the abuses (an Anonymous message). The contrast between that video and the Debbie Cook case is huge. The wave has broken and the tide is now rolling back and the people are rejoicing!

      • sugarplumfairy

        “The wave has broken and the tide is now rolling back..” eggggcellent metaphor!!!

      • John P.

        Paul, thanks for your thoughts. Great to hear that your direct experience confirms the impact of Debbie’s e-mail.

        Just to circle back on one point: the ad campaign did not seem to be aimed at actually recruiting anyone — it was indeed ineffective on that score. Instead, the ad that ran was all about the statistics about how big Scientology is and how fast it’s growing. Those aren’t really reasons to get someone to join a religion, but they are an attempt to show those in the cult that it’s not failing, which is what Debbie’s e-mail alleged. The cult no longer appears to care what the outside world thinks of it, even if that means few to zero new people actually walk in the door; they’re focused on extracting the last possible dollar out of the shrinking member pool. So they ran the ads solely in response to Debbie’s allegations, in a very expensive attempt to “dead agent” her (i.e., discredit her assertions). That’s why the focus on how the cult is successful, expanding rapidly, and they are “disseminating” on TV like they used to. Since the average cultist doesn’t watch too much TV, they publicized this one occasion for the ad campaign to their members, asking everyone to watch it, and the drones never noticed that the ads ran only once and never again. They spent perhaps $15 million on this ad campaign in an attempt to convince maybe 15,000 cultists to stay in the fold. An astonishingly ineffective use of money…

        • BuryTheNuts2

          If the cult is adept at anything, it Is….”an astonishingly ineffective use of money”.

          Fucking geniuses in this arena!
          (Sarcasm font in use)

    • richelieu jr

      “Don’t be schtupid, be a sxhmarty!
      Come and join Scintology!”

    • Rick Mycroft

      I’m surprised that CoS overlooked Ray Jefferey’s local connections. This first thing they did in Clearwater when changing over from a hostile occupying force to the friendly church that just wants to get along was to hire a local law firm with tons of local legal and political connections.

      Scientology hires top Clearwater law firm December 2, 1999, Thomas C. Tobin, St. Petersburg Times
      http://www.sptimes.com/News/120299/NorthPinellas/Scientology_hires_top.shtml

      Influential lawyer gets too close to Pinellas business for comfort October 29, 2008, Will Van Sant, St. Petersburg Times
      http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/article879604.ece

      • I think this points to how crippled the Co$ is becoming. I think it does not have the financial resources to mount the protracted legal battles that it depended on for success in the past. Equally troublesome from its standpoint is the fact that its game plan in these situations is readily researchable on the web and can be preempted. Finally, the opponent it had this time (Cook, with the assistance of Rathbun and Rinder) possessed inside knowledge concerning the prime mover’s thought processes and could plan strategically.

        • ze moo

          During Wollersheim vs CO$, the clams staged large public rallies that denounced Wollersheim and touted the incredible benefits of Scamatology. There were no public demonstrations against Debbie Cook or any one else suing or causing any bad publicity for the clams. Is Miscavige afraid of allowing ‘his’ public and org workers to come out in public and support corporate CO$?? Or are there simply not enough of either who are willing to blindly follow the evil dwarf??

          I think Davey is afraid of any anti-davey info ‘his’ people might see and is more afraid of more defections. Cults like to be closed societies. Have you ever seen the ‘fundamentalist’ polygamous women in Warren Jeffs cult? They all dress alike and are not allowed to interact with outsiders. Watching them yell at reporters and avoid news coverage has been very enlightening for me. Seclusion from outside influences is the only way to keep them ignorant of other viewpoints and lifestyles. The internet and modern communications is the death knell of scamatology.

          “How are you going to keep them down on the farm, when they’ve seen the big city.”

          • BuryTheNuts2

            FLDS Fun Fact.
            You will never see any of those women wearing the color Red.
            Big No-No!

    • TheHoleDoesNotExist

      I agree about the legal shenanigans, and add it seemed to signal a sign of Miscavige’s deteriorating mental faculties, no longer heeding his own team of legal advisers despite their vertically expanding billable hour rartes.

      But I’d disagree about the impact to outsiders about the Hole. Up till then the worst major media coverage portrayed the limp and laughable belief spectrum. This was one of the first tastes of what thousands have been trying to voice over many decades, JohnP: The human rights abuses, the criminal fanaticism, the virtual fantasy land of the mad men of scientology.

      Later, Katie Holmes (heroine in my book) ripped off the vaulted doors and international media suddenly spread out the full course buffet of evil abuses and inhumane acts in the name of Hubbard. Now the celebrities, the government officials, the IRS, the lawyers, the health and school directors that had ever spoken up for this corrupt organization took on an entirely new and nauseous patina the light of day.

    • Cue the music:

      Springtime for Slappy in Scieno-land

      Winter for Cruise’s career

      We’re moving at a faster pace!

      Look out! Here comes the Master Race! (Homo Novus)

  • Can I ask a question of the ex’es about something that has intrigued me for awhile. What was hubbard’s take on masturbation? I’m not being flippant, I’m genuinely interested on what he thought about it and given his micro-managing of every aspect of the human personae I’m guessing he must have written something about it…..did he give it a special name? Is it hidden on the tone scale?

    • richelieu jr

      I think he called it ‘Whipping the little Bishop’, ‘Petting MIscavige” or ‘Giving the Little Dictator the Rehabilitation Rubdown’….

    • slappy

      No special name given. Hubbard wrote in the book “Handbook for Preclears”:

      “The facsimiles of an individual can become considerably scrambled by masturbation. Practically all the ape family and Man masturbate. Masturbation is a prohibition result. It couldn’t drive anyone crazy. But it can make the individual pull old sex facsimiles into present time for self-stimulation and opens the door for him to desire facsimiles to be in present time. After awhile he will be pulling pain facsimiles into present time.”

      Miscavige has a “thing” about it which is why it’s brought up so often.

      • sugarplumfairy

        And people paid him for that crap.. Jeeeeeez..

      • Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack

        You got to trust someone named Slappy referring to a Handbook when he talks about masturbation.

        Nonetheless, I remember being advised (by one of the jack offs in the cult) that it becomes a problem when the fantasies become more meaningful than the reality of sex.

      • This passage makes Sarah Palin erudite by comparison.

    • I just remember he called it a first dynamic activity, not a second dynamic one. I don’t recal it being any big sin back in the 80’s the way it is now. I could be wrong though. I don’t think females in general had to go through as much confessing about it as males. Or maybe that’s just me.

      • Semper Phi

        When I was doing my auditor training at Flag, most of my SO pc’s – of both genders – found masturbation overts. I had one session with a teenage girl go almost off the rails because the overt was so hard for her to confront. Personally, I never got it and remember thinking “really? you think it’s that much of an issue?” even as I was chasing down all the details. Obviously I was way too reasonable on the subject. The LRH bulletin everyone has to read in their ethics handlings after giving up sex overts in sec checks is called “Pain and Sex.” Don’t ask me to explain it, because it never made any sense to me.

        • nobs

          I had the same reaction when I was doing my student auditing on the Academy levels. I felt so sorry for the younger folks who had very normal sexual urges but were made to feel wrong and dirty for having them. One teen-aged boy thought it was an overt to even look at a girl’s breasts. I wanted to pull him aside and tell him to stop worrying about it and enjoy himself. Admiring a woman’s body is not an overt. What’s also very weird about the attitude around sex is that on the Royal Scotman (later named the Apollo) in the late 60s, the general mindset was screw around as much as you want with whoever you want. It was crazy. And even crazier: there was no access to birth control but not one unwanted pregnancy was reported (in the year I was there). I think it’s safe to say that hubtard’s later policies were a reaction to this orgiastic atmosphere.

      • Here’s a first hand account that made me lol

        From: “Poopsy Charmicheal”
        Subject: Scientology and Masturbation
        Message-ID:
        Date: Thu, 24 May 2001 07:10:03 GMT

        It’s true.

        You too can go to the Scientology ethics officer and get “handled” for masturbating.

        In the last few years, they’ve populated most ethics officer posts with teenagers.

        So, often, you’ll see married, 39 year old men asked by 16 year old girls, or 18 year old boys, who are acting as their ethics officers, to “get their ethics in” and apply conditions to their masturbation.

        I was in a course room once where the course sup would assess the “five main reasons students blow” on recovered students, out loud, in a small class room filled with students.

        He’d look at the meter screen, and say, “Personal out-ethics resulting in a missed withhold?”

        Pause. (All the students are really listening now) Pause.

        Supervisor: “Masturbation?”

        Pause (The whole room is dead silent) Supervisor: “Playing with your self? OK.” (looking up) “Playing with your self?”

        Student: “mummmble, mmmmmurmer,mmmhhnadhf ogt….”

        Supervisor: “Thank you. Playing with your self? OK. That’s clean. Your needle is floating.”

        Student puts down cans. FACE BEET RED.

        Supervisor: “Return to study.”

        I saw him do this “assessment” at least 3 times on students who had already come back from being blown. This was on their first night back from missing a few course periods.

        You can bet that *I* never blew from that courseroom!

        Poopsy

    • John P.

      Pre-Scientology, his “Admissions,” written in approximately 1947, showed he had a lot of personal issues around the subject. A truly fascinating document that provides a huge window into Hubbard’s own state of mind. http://www.lermanet.com/reference/Admissions.pdf.

      • stillgrace

        Wasn’t there a scene depicting “The Master” hard at work in the bathroom, looking at himself in the mirror, while his wife looked on? Perhaps highlights from LRH’s “Admissions” were grist for Anderson’s mill.

        • BuryTheNuts2

          Um no, the wife gamed the goal. And she did it as cold as ice.
          That was a very intense scene in the movie and it went a long way in describing “Peggy’s” ultimate power in their relationship.

          • stillgrace

            She may have gamed him, but I thought he was working hard at it until then. The DVD comes out on February 26, 2013.

            • sugarplumfairy

              I thought so too.. And he was doing it while staring lovingly into his own eyes.. I guess we know what turned lrh on.. himself….

            • BuryTheNuts2

              See, I did not get that at all out of it. To me it seemed he was just kind of lost in thought.

      • q-bird

        Under course I in admissions – is a line:

        (d1) That I see and hear Raon clearly.

        What IS this?

        • BuryTheNuts2

          Hubbards “guardian”

          • q-bird

            yes – got it – thanks – I saw later on in the admissions that he makes a similar statement, says he can CLEARLY see & hear his Guardian. So the above name must be the personal name for a supernatural ‘being’ – a spirit creature, i.e. an angel -or- a demon. Sure. makes sense. Holy Crap!

      • Amazing read…. Mr P [or anyone] could you put into a context/succinct sentence what these Admissions are all about, especially as it’s pre scientology.

        • John P.

          Essentially, it is Hubbard listing all his neuroses, fears, stuff he doesn’t like about himself, and then trying to come up with a set of what would these days be called “affirmations” to combat these demons by reprogramming his mind.

          The document is fascinating because when considered in hindsight, it sure accounts for a lot of what Scientology focuses on. Some commenters have neatly summed it up: Scientology “tech” is all about handling Hubbard’s own case, and everybody else is just along for the ride.

          • Thanks, that makes it a lot more understandable

    • sizzle8

      There are contradictory references. On the one hand, :)) , he said that 2d (sex) activities were no one’s business, but on the other hand, masturbation “pulls in mental image pictures” and is therefore not good. Also, in practice, 2d activities are closely controlled, specially in the Sea Org.

  • richelieu jr

    One thing that really strikes me (having had a couple of run ins with the ‘church’ in the early 90’s) is how long all this dissention and lack of stability seems to have been bubbling just under the surface… This year seems to be the year the dam broke, or the the last drop, or the camel’s last straw, or whatever analogy you prefer…

    One wonders if Scientology will join the lang and growing list of names of things that were unprepared for the Internet and the 21st Century’s economy of information….

    • Scientology watchers in the 90’s referred to the internet as Scientology’s Vietnam. a war they cannot win. And just like the real Vietnam, it was a long and protracted process. The US was always just about to win, we were always told that we could see the “light at the end of the tunnel”. Enemy casualty figures were inflated to make it look like we were destroying them. Just as Scientology is always claiming to be the world’s fastest-growing religion, and Narconon has a 90% success rate. And all of Miscaviges made-up statistics. Many striking parallels.

  • B.B. Broeker

    As a longtime vault watcher, I really appreciated the CST interview. It’s remarkable how few CST employees have blown over the years. It’s understandable that the remotely located CST types would be unlikely to blow – after all, Chuck Dunedin, by all accounts, has a pretty idyllic gig as the caretaker in Trementina, especially if he enjoys solitude and has hobbies suitable for rural living. The Petrolia caretakers might have it even better, overlooking the ocean from a rise in beautiful Humboldt County, with no DM or any other Sea Ogre around to stop you from cultivating the area’s indigenous medicine.

    The question of why Gold-stationed CSTers don’t blow, though, isn’t as easily answered. Presumably, they’re in the same boat as the rest of the poor bastards. So is the absence of defectors largely a function of the small number of CST staff relative to the stuff of other entities?

    • B.B. Broeker

      Er, Chuck DUNAGIN. Stupid autocorrect.

  • The truly striking thing about Urban’s research is not just its revelation that Hubbard copied. The Crowley – Hubbard link provides confirmation that at the root of Scientology lies the age-old quest for individual power and domination over others, this time dressed up as a pseudo-science. This quest can allow only one controlling ego at the top and demands that the individuality and free thoughts of those below be suppressed to serve that ego. It reveals that Scientology’s abuses cannot be reformed because they are essential to its purpose.

    • BuryTheNuts2

      Nice assessment.

    • Rick Mycroft

      “Hubbard’s work was both good and original, but the good parts weren’t original, and the original parts weren’t good.”

      Of course, a lot of the bad stuff wasn’t original either.

    • BuryTheNuts2

      I can’t help but draw comparisons between Libertairianism, Thelema, Scientology, wash, rinse, repeat.

      Sorry, I just passed by a billboard on I-95 that said: Who is John Galt?

      • Captain Howdy

        Where there vultures sittin’ on top of it and hungry gators down below snapping their jaws ? It’s no accident that Ted Bundy ended his “career” in Florida.

        • BuryTheNuts2

          Smart Aleck!
          I was in G.E.O.R.G.I.A. At the time.
          Lol.

    • BuryTheNuts2

      Crowley’s writing was far superior to Hubbard’s.
      In fact, Crowley’s collection of poems in “White Stains” are quite enjoyable to read.

      Much better than any of Hubbard’s tripe.

      • I’m sure that Crowley was more gifted than Hubbard.

    • Mrs Libnish

      Here Here! That was the one of the most quick and concise comments I’ve seen in a while. It pretty much sums it up.

  • sugarplumfairy

    just imagine what would have happened if debbie cook had not settled and the testimony had been allowed to continue.. It could have been crippling.. she may have even dispatched co$..

    But she got hers.. and in true scientology fashion, she left the weaker ones to fend for themselves..

    I hope debbie cook is haunted ever day in her lovely new Mexican villa by every dead widow (not just the Italian ones) she ever crush-regged..

    • It actually was fortuitous that it progressed the way it did. The shocking revelations came out early in the news cycle when they had the most effect on the general public (as much it might surprise us, I think it’s accurate to state that most people still don’t know about the abuses and are just repelled by Scientology’s overall creepiness). DM wasn’t able to mount a smear campaign against her. A protracted trial would have allowed the matter to drift below the radar and blunt the impact much like the OJ trial did after a while. Finally, how many members were left asking themselves what happened? Nagging doubt can also act to rot out the structure at its core.

      • sugarplumfairy

        Thanks, Gerard.. good point..

      • I think the quick payoff, leaving everyone to wonder just what else Debbie had on Davey and rest of Co$ management, does a lot more to erode confidence than a few more horror stories revealed would have done (much like the quick settlement between Tom and Katie. She may, in fact, have nothing damning on him and the Cult, but good luck ever getting anyone [me included] to believe that.) There have to be a lot of people still in that are asking themselves “Why did they settle if everything she said was a lie.”

        Imagination can be a lot more powerful than the truth.

  • TickTockDM

    Another significant milestone: on February 2, 2012, the Paris court of appeal affirmed Scientology’s 2009 conviction for organized fraud and illegal practice of pharmacy, confirmed the sentences and fines, and even increased some of the penalties. Scientology’s lawyers spent days trying to stall the appeal trial by raising questions of law that would have taken months or years to resolve, but the judge rejected all of these attempts. Scientology’s lawyers and defendants walked out of the courtroom, and the rest of the trial unfolded without them. They lost. The next round will be fought in France’s supreme court, the Court of Cassation.

  • Knob

    Scientology is the study of nuclear physics, drawing on 50,000 years of mathematics, and nuclear physics.

    • sugarplumfairy

      Don’t you mean nucular physics?

      “If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying correctly..”
      -Sr. Mary Patrice (my third grade teacher)

      • BuryTheNuts2

        Someday, I want to take you out and buy you a couple of cranberry martini’s!

        • sugarplumfairy

          Yah!!

      • Knob

        Fixed

        • sugarplumfairy

          Lol.. Rarely is my whining so promptly rewarded..

  • This was the beginning of a very damaging year for Scientology. Funny thing is that Debbie’s original email was sent by her to only a few people. She never intended for it to go public. But someone got a hold of it and sent it mas mailing. The rest is history.

    • It’s email. I think she had to know it would get around.

  • 1subgenius

    Regarding the vaults: If they’re built so that lrh’s shit survives a nuclear holocaust, doesn’t that mean they ain’t gonna clear the planet before then?
    Um, so what’s the point of Scientology again?

    • nobs

      oh snap!

    • Do we really know what if anything is actually stored in those vaults? Can DM melt down the titanium (or whatever it is) and sell the metal to raise cash?

      • John P.

        RockawayRecycling.com on Long Island is offering $1.00 per pound for titanium scrap for recycling. Not gonna get all that rich that way, even if you have a few tons of it. (Spot market price for refined raw stock is about $3.40 per pound. It’s not cheap enough to build a building out of but it’s not ludicrously expensive.)

        • ze moo

          Lron left his personal fortune to the vault project. He does not appear to have left any money to his family. This project may have been how the dwarfenfürher started his offshore bank accounts.

          • Wasn’t there some kind of last minute new will shortly before Hubbard died? And didn’t Miscavige cheat Mary Sue out of Hubbard’s fortune?

            • ze moo

              The will that was probated was supposedly signed just days before Lrons death and the will was delivered to probate by David Miscavige. I don’t know of any earlier wills, so I don’t know if Mary Sue was cheated out of anything. I haven’t seen anything that tells of Mary Sues life after Lron died, I would think that DM would have bought her off and received a non-disclouse agreement in return. No one else in Hubbard’s family seems to have received any thing from his estate.

        • Another dried up income stream for the Co$. How much more can it tolerate?

  • BosonStark

    Besides money and square footage, and sucking money from people to build more square footage, it seems like Scientology needs something to worship right now, and Miscavige is a little too tiny for that.

    I suggest they move their mecca from Clearwater to Trementina, NM and worship the titanium encased stainless steel tablets. It’s very dry there, and less oily than Clearwater. They could form Mercedes-Benzes into a giant CST symbol, and rap chant for the arrival of Hubbard’s spaceship.

  • dagobarbz

    ….and still, the government does nothing.

    • I think that the power of truth disseminated broadly is a much more powerful force than any government. It leads to understanding and knowledge, something that the Co$ cannot survive.

      • dagobarbz

        It’s a big world just packed with suckers. Many of Scientology’s latest victims are Taiwanese. Latino names are getting prominent. Perhaps it’s enough to shut them down in my country, and let Colombia et.al.. take care of their own.

        • The other part of this equation is the Ponzi Scheme element. The organization requires an ever-expanding base of people who can afford to pay a lot of money for dubious services. I don’t think that the new fields being worked are places where lots of sources of disposable income are available. Bodies in the shop alone won’t cut it.

          • dagobarbz

            In the long run, I agree with you. This thing must ultimately fail; it’s too big and unwieldy at the top; and like the island of Oahu, deteriorating from the inside. In the meantime, countries like South Africa, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, Mexico and South America will keep the beast floundering a bit longer. Scientology is very compatible with corrupt third-world governments, at least initially, until the honeymoon phase wears off and the cult begins to be a problem rather than a solution.

            I could see them flogging the Purif more, except Colin Henderson, David Love & Co. are ripping that program a new corn chute. You know how a tsunami will suck all the water out of the bay before striking? The absolute end will be near when they start selling off orgs everywhere but Los Angeles and Clearwater. I think real estate is the absolute last thing DM will give up, and he will try to maintain centers in CW and LA. If he doesn’t wind up in the Big House, that is.

            • I think that its time is running out even in the third world. Corrupt rulers are lured by money. I doubt that the Co$ has excess cash lying around to bribe anyone. That, coupled with its totalitarian structure outside of the control of any of the rulers of those countries makes it an unattractive partner and unlikely to spread very far.

  • Chocolate Velvet

    Ohh yes, I remember the day of the trial, and your live coverage Tony. The best part was reading everyone’s comments throughout the day. Watching that count climb, and realizing that by virtue of web traffic alone, this story was going to attract attention. What a kick!

  • 0tessa

    It used to be labelled ‘a blow’ – meaning out-ethics – when you left Scientology Inc without permission.
    Nowadays it is to be considered out-ethics or a blow when you stay in Scientology Inc.
    How times can change.
    May the final change come in 2013!

  • Axton

    What untold treasures are stored in these “vaults?”

    • 1subgenius

      A place for DM to bunker down.
      I don’t see how the authorities could ever get him out.
      This is acceptable to me.

    • nobs

      Try googling “scientology vault”. You’ll get more than enough answers.

      • Axton

        Cool story, bro.

    • Observer

      Some kind of large lava beast? 😉 A lava beast would be far more interesting than LRH’s collected “wisdom”, and just as beneficial. But you’re the vault hunter–get crackin’!

    • It might end up being like that mobster’s safe that Geraldo opened to great fanfare on live TV. As I remember, there was nothing inside.

  • Kim O’Brien

    Aaahhh…yes. I remember it well . With Debbie Cook in court ..it was the only time in my life that i actually wished i was in Texas.

  • 1subgenius

    Please excuse/ignore this rant:

    Can we close this deal or not? I hate to/won’t admit it, but I’m getting tired of this shit.
    I am tired of all this jacking off on blogs and forums, The dead horse has been beaten, and is now actually tender enough to eat (thanks Andrew Zimmern).

    Are we afraid we won’t have somewhere to congregate if Scientology actually collapses, and so, are not DOING anything but “blogging”?
    If so, I have a nice porch. A very nice though humble porch.

    Too many observers/commentators, and not enough actors?

    No one wants to be in a trainwreck but no one can stop looking at one.

    Looking is not enough. I like to watch, too. (“Being There” reference)

    I think Tony Ortega will succeed in anything he pursues, after this one is gone.

    There is no dearth of causes for great justice.

    And I have little doubt that he will “be in that number when the saints go marching in”, and will deserve a lot of the credit for chasing a devil out of earth.

    Journalists of his caliber have effected major changes in American society (paging Upton Sinclair), and this would be one, if and when it happens.
    But, will it happen?

    There needs to be more boots on the ground.
    MINE first and foremost.
    Here’s a little motivation. (I’m mostly kicking my ownself in the ass to get back out there. Try it, its fun, and exhilirating)
    There are some nice images here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C_PRUf0l9Y

    Please take this maudlin rambling in the spirit of its intent.

    To make this the best of Scientology-free New Year ever.

    • nobs

      thanks for the motivation and the great video. no need to ask for being excused. i think many of us feel exactly the same way.

    • Sandy

      Actually, 1sub, that took me on a whole afternoon journey of fun videos. Thanks.

      • 1subgenius

        yer welcome

    • TheHoleDoesNotExist

      Do you not know that we All have had this moment, again, and sometimes again? No one with a heart can hear heart ripping stories over and over and not jump up and shout and wring their moral brow and shake their fists and Do something. It happens. And in case you or others don’t know, there are thousands who do something, whatever they can, which is different at different times, each in his or her own way.

      It’s only in the movies where the villain gets creamed within a relatively short time frame. Scientology has been cut down, bit by bit. You just happened to stop the film during a frustrating frame. Just click reStart however works for you. Most, Most! helping out do not have listed names or numbers or faces or stories or blogs. Their stories won’t be written for many years down the line. Hope this helps.

    • John P.

      I learned long ago at Global Capitalism HQ that in order to make money, you not only have to be right about what will happen, but you also have to be right about when it will happen. Consider the case of RIM, the company that makes the BlackBerry e-mail devices and cell phones. When the Apple iPhone came out at the beginning of 1997, I predicted (correctly) that RIM was toast, and that their software engineering operation, due to architectural limitations in their operating system, would be utterly unable to respond competitively to the new iPhone’s killer feature set, no matter how hard they worked and how much they spent. Also, the business model was flawed and two overrated nitwits were in charge. So it was clear that on January 9, 2007 the die was cast and their doom became inevitable. My view was right on, and it was not widely shared at the time. I say this not to brag (well, OK, maybe to brag a very little bit), but to point out that a correct conclusion isn’t worth very much if you don’t also get the time frame right.

      I did not rush out to short the stock, because I knew it would take a long time for the market to catch up to my doom scenario. If I had shorted the stock the day of the iPhone announcement, I would have gotten killed… the stock closed at $44.31 the day before the Apple iPhone was announced, and today it stands at $10.91. I would have made decent money if I shorted it then, but the problem is that if I didn’t wait, I would have gotten utterly destroyed within a year as the stock zoomed to $144 per share 18 months later on the (ludicrous) theory that the iPhone would grow the market for smartphones so quickly that even with a crappy product, RIM would get pulled along. In mid-2008, Android momentum started to catch fire and never looked back, shattering any hope that RIM would be the alternative to the iPhone. The stock began the process of collapse that continues to this day. We shorted RIMM stock at about $120, took some pain as it ran up to $140, and then started smiling when things really started to fall apart.

      The point of all this is that when you’re right about something (the inevitability of the decline of the cult of Scientology), you have to avoid getting discouraged when it doesn’t happen as fast as you think it will. It takes much longer for organizations to fall apart than you think — the government of North Korea has been driving the economy into the ground for decades, losing over 1/4 of its population to entirely preventable famines in that time, yet the Kim family, chief source of idiocy, is still in power. But fall apart they most certainly will.

      Please don’t accuse the community that comments here as a bunch of homebodies who would rather be typing than doing something. That may be true of some people, but I have met many people here who are committed to action in the real world, and many of them have had some real, measurable effect on bringing down the cult. I could name many, but there are many more I’d overlook.

      It would be a mistake to think that the community of commenters is a closed ecosystem; I know from talking to Tony about the stats at the Village Voice site that there are orders of magnitude more readers of this blog than there are commenters. I have been surprised by the amount of private correspondence I have received from people still “in” who look to Tony’s blog as a source of accurate information about what’s going on in the cult. For some inexplicable reason, some have found my comments to helpful as they look at whether to risk leaving and are seeking advice from me. So it’s impossible to know what impact these comments read by lurkers is having. I don’t want to overstate the case, but it would be foolish to shut it out.

      I remain optimistic: after this bizarre, devastating year, I think we’ll start to see the payoff in 2013. As I said in Tony’s article a couple days ago, the craziness and stupidity in Miscavige’s decisions is likely to increase going forward. Membership will be down. Financial panic and desperation at the orgs will grow. All that will accelerate trends we started to see in 2012. I think we’ll be looking back a year from now and will mark 2013 as the year they couldn’t hide the collapse any more. It will still be a few years until the collapse is complete (think: 5-7 years, not 2-3), but the broader world will see the end game start to play out within the year.

      • I agree that the end game is unavoidable. It will most likely take a few years but one never knows. The utter global financial collapse of 2008 seemed to us on the outside to have been far more precipitous and worse than anyone predicted or expected. The same could be true of the demise of the organized Co$.

      • Davka

        John P., your comments are some of the most thoughtful and well written I’ve ver read, with lots of depth and wit. I’m not surprised folks are seeking you out (although the part about asking you for guidance must feel a little daunting – I know it would for me).

        • John P.

          Thanks for the kind words.

          Yes, it was indeed daunting to be asked for advice by people who are deeply fearful about the future and about dealing with this scary organization. By comparison, shoveling billions of dollars around in the market is very high pressure, but I don’t have a deep personal connection with every stockholder in the fund. It’s ugly when I screw up a trade, but at least I don’t have to go to the grandkids of everyone that invests money with us and explain that they won’t get the new bike they wanted for Christmas because Grandma’s 401(k) is down 30% this year thanks to some detail I didn’t take into account.

          • Davka

            You are welcome for the kind words – I meant them. As for the stock market, that is (arguably) an informed decision to invest (not that I really have any clue about how to invest – and hopefully I’m not shortchanging my retirement too much). At minimum, there are the regulatory disclosures about not FDIC insured, etc. that people have the choice to read. Scientology isn’t quite the same – informed anything is actively discouraged, and quite frankly, anathema to its cultural core. You don’t end up in the RPF for missing a detail in grandma’s 401K. Although with Dodd-Frank, it may be a new regulatory requirement the SEC’s cooking up 🙂

      • 1subgenius

        Roger that. (5, 7, 2, 3,<1).

        Its ALL about the information
        (cf. James Gleick
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Gleick

        and esp.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Information:_A_History,_a_Theory,_a_Flood)

        so I don't discount cyber-activity.

        Boots on the ground has a certain thingy….I can't spell the French term for it. Sounds like "jenny say kwa".
        But anyhow, cheers to everyone doing something, anything, to dismantle the "world's most sinister scam"(R)enturbulator 009 .
        See you on the flip flop.
        Over.

        • mirele

          “Je ne sais quoi”–a indescribable something, a favorite term used by the late great Molly Ivins.

        • french mike

          Je ne sais quoi

        • mattekudasai

          Je ne sais quoi!

          Yes1subgenius, I relish the thought of putting my boots to the ground holding picket signs but fortunately the Cult doesn’t even register as a blip here in the Atlantic Provinces with a population of around 2.3 million. There is one “mission” in Halifax, Nova Scotia , a 4 hour drive from here but no wheels of my own. I’m in this game alone here other than one of my brothers who through non invasive dissemination (on my part) decided to boycott Tom Cruise movies. Brother “Bill” took the “Oxford Capacity Analysis ” tests back in the 70’s when the cult tried to set up shop here in Saint John N.B. This was at a time when he was on a spiritual quest and this was an era when other groups such as Hare Krishna, the Moonies and Children of God were vying for members.

          After completing the test he was turned off by their elitist attitude and pressure for sales so he just walked away quickly from that.

          I hope to be well enough to visit my daughter in Saskatchewan this coming summer and one of my goals is to visit the Co$ in Saskatoon and stage my own protest. I’ll be looking for support from anyone close enough to join in and for any ideas on how best to present my demonstration against them.
          In the New Year I’m going to donate to Mark Bunker’s documentary with an SP3 donation. I also post msgs to counter the fantastical claims of Co$ on media sites. If petitions were drawn up I would gladly sign in my own name. I sent a donation to someone here who is pulling their life together after being raised in the cult and now re educating themselves.
          Last but not least I do think the ex members and others who are searching gain support and encouragement from our community. We do what we can and it is good to get advice and suggestions on how to more effective. Thank You.

      • DodoTheLaser

        I do like my new Android-based Samsung Galaxy S III very much. Unlike Scientology, it delivers.

      • jensting

        In addition to Real Life [tm] action, the number of new voices heard in comment in 2012 was interesting. While I did my fair share of predicting the end of the criminal organisation known as the “church” of $cientology back in the day (and was wrong), I think that the years since 2008 have gone worse and worse for said criminal organisation and that makes me happy.

    • mirele

      Next year will be the 19th year I’ve been doing this. I’ve never been in a Co$, only outside, with a sign. They showed up on my playground, the Internet, and started trying to boss us around. I’m in this for the long haul.

      In the beginning, I thought that once we got the truth out, the cult would be a goner. It hasn’t worked out that way. There were years of setbacks in the 1990s. Things started looking up in 2005 when Tom Cruise lost it on Oprah’s couch and told Matt Lauer women with postpartum depression shouldn’t take antidepressants. (Seriously, the latter got a LOT of attention from younger people just starting families, at least from anecdotal evidence.) Since 2008, every year has gotten better and better for those of us trying to get the word out about Scientology (thank you Anonymous!).

      What I’ve learned about this is patience. Patience, keep slogging away at it. We’re seeing the fruit of that patience now. When I think back to 1993 and 1994 and 1995, Scientology was thought of as a weird new religion, one that the press was afraid to touch due to the Time lawsuit. Now Scientology has a dedicated reporter on the case!

      What I’m looking forward to in 2013, besides the plethora of books coming out, is lots more great journalism from TonyO. And probably surprises galore!

  • ze moo

    Tom Cruise’s action thriller Jack Reacher debuted in second place with a
    modest $US15.6 million debut, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

    http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/world/hobbit-extends-no1-journey-in-us/story-e6frfkui-1226542852062#ixzz2FugJTFml

    The Hobbitt made 91 million during this period. Reacher claimed second prize in the box office stat game, this weekend.

    • All the people who couldn’t get into The Hobbit.

  • DMSTCC

    In the absence of our regular Sunday Funnies… this looks like Heber Jentzsch and his gang of thugs from the 80’s…

    http://www.regrettablemusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/nilseriks.jpg

  • Isaac Clarke

    Didn’t LRH say some creep gut taught him to self-express his 2D while he was in his mid-teens on a slow boat to China?

  • Sir Lurkalot

    “Springtime for Miscavige”, a The Producers reference?

  • John P.

    Jack Reacher opened with a $15.6 million weekend, on 3,352 screens. Using my math skills, that works out to about $4,653 per screen. Though the market appears to be glutted with holiday releases at the moment, which is affecting all releases, various publications report that this is the weakest Cruise opening for a widely released film since A Few Good Men in 1992. The opening was weaker even than Rock of Ages earlier this year, where Cruise was again mis-cast.

    Speaking of mis-casting, the Los Angeles Times shreds the film, in an article headlined “Jack Reacher: The fans are furious.” The tone gets more strident from there. One fan quoted says: “Cruise is NOT Reacher. Channing Tatum so IS. I can not believe they actually used an arrogant overexposed short IMBECILE to create such an awesome character. I will not see it and it literally RUINED the whole character for me.” In other words, this person is dug in deeply against the franchise, and probably won’t see any later films if they make sequels, because of the mis-casting of Cruise. Many other Lee Child fans quoted in the article say more or less the same thing.

    In an Arctically cold coda to the story, the reporter says, “The filmmakers did get something right. The film is roughly based on the Reacher novel ‘One Shot,’ which is set in a heartland city — and the movie was in fact shot in Pittsburgh.” Ouch!

    By comparison, the opening weekend for the wide release debut for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master was $4.4 million in 788 theaters — a $5,583 per screen number, far more solid than Cruise’s performance, which should have benefited from an immense marketing budget. I can’t figure out what the final marketing spend was, but I’m guessing that the studio was glad they scaled back from the original plan in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

    It wouldn’t surprise me to see Jack Reacher drop to fewer than 2,000 screens by next weekend, given that there are so many films in the pipeline that might be able to do higher per-screen grosses. My bet: Jack Reacher is gone by January 15, US box office is less than $35 million, and DVD sales tank because the mis-casting has crushed the value of the character to drive a franchise.

    • TheHoleDoesNotExist

      good to know. When I read up on the character, I wondered whose idea it was to cast Cruise in this role as it seemed to be a trainwreck concept on So many levels. Anyone know who was behind this casting?

      (I have time. Waiting for my carpets to dry, so stuck in the home office for now)

    • Observer

      This post made my day, John P. When I read about the character of Jack Reacher–especially that he’s 6’5″–all I could think about Cruise’s casting was “WTF?”. On the other hand, shouldn’t a Big Being MEST master be able to add 10 inches to his height? 

      His career has begun a slow decline, and he’s getting a bit long in the tooth for Hollywood. I wonder how long it will be before Davey breaks up with him? 

    • a couple of days ago the BBC TV Film review show said at the end of their review [they gave it a meh] that the next film in the franchise was already in production and made a point that Tom Cruise was doing it…. that was an unusual thing to say… I feel it was a prompt from one of his PR lackeys and the beeb obliged.

      Re-think methinks.

      • John P.

        Talk is cheap. As I understand it, studios typically don’t commit to doing a sequel until they have a clear sense of how strong the movie will open. I would assess that particular comment as “whistling past the graveyard,” attempting to show bravado about the strength of the movie where there is none. The comment may well have been intended to suggest that the studio is confident in the casting of Cruise – that they’re not worried about the enormous amount of negative press that particular casting discussion has gotten. It’s pretty amateurish to try to sell the idea that the sequel has gotten the green light if it hasn’t; if the movie bombs you look like an idiot betting too much too soon, particularly in the current studio environment. There’s plenty of time to announce a sequel if the movie’s a hit.

        I would expect that the studio had a couple sequels in development (a very different thing from being in production) in case this film opened strongly; they could then pick one and green light it. But something like 80% of books optioned and put into development never actually get made; they stay “in development” until the rights expire. Not like the Beeb to confuse “in development” with “in production,” but you never know.

        • … I double checked on BBC iPlayer [it’s about 9’20” in] and the exact words the male host said to the female host were:

          “anything we say is pointless as they’re making the sequel to this already… Tom Cruise jumping up and down trying to get the pesto off the shelf… it’s already happening, there’s nothing we can do about it”

          …. the same host previously mentioned Cruise getting valeted socks delivered on set

          It’s not often you get ‘respectful’ movie hosts making height jokes about Tom Cruise… his star is definitely turning.

    • DodoTheLaser

      Perhaps Chris Hemsworth would be a better cast? May be Tom can introduce him graciously as his replacement for both Mission Impossible and Jack Reacher in 2013 without loosing his face too much.

    • ze moo

      Lee Child did a cameo in the film and praised Tom Cruise’s portrait of (to quote Derick Bloch) ‘Jacques Reacharound’. Of course, Lee wants to see more Reacher movies and probably doesn’t care who plays his protagonist.

    • InTheNameOfXenu

      I hope that the dismal box-office returns will mark the end to Tom Cruise’s career. Mel Gibson made a few racist remarks and was tape recorded cursing out his ex and his career tanked. Cruise did far worse than Gibson. Cruise shilled for a destructive cult. He acted like an arrogant brainwashed son-of-a-bitch in front of Matt Lauer. He condoned slave labor when his BFF, Miscavige, ordered his .30 cent an hour Sea Org members to work on his hanger, motor cycles, and vehicles. Tom Cruise should be in jail along with his boyfriend, DM. He doesn’t deserve a career. People should boycott his films. I sincerely hope that his next film tanks. I pray for his ruination.

  • Davka

    Since I didn’t find TO and all of you until June, I hadn’t read all the Debbie Cook stuff until now…….another rabbit hole. I’d read her e-mail before, but now it actually makes more sense – which is both cool and a little disconcerting that a lurker/civilian like me now understands what the heck “Int” and “ARC” are! Yes, it’s been quite the year….whether it’s the beginning of the end I think remains to be seen.

  • Urban’s work on Hubbard and Crowley helps me to understand some of why COS gained power as, like Crowley, it has a demonic root and satan will give his followers some power for a time before he takes their soul to hell later.