Last month, we worked with Woman’s Day magazine to bring you the story of Anette Iren Johansen, a Norwegian church member who was the first woman to speak publicly about being “auditioned” for a role as Tom Cruise’s next girlfriend. Dozens of women in 2004 and 2005 were asked to try out for a role in a film that turned out to be an elaborate dating scheme after Cruise’s relationship with actress Penelope Cruz fell apart. Johansen decided to come forward about her own 2005 audition after she left Scientology and has begun speaking out about its abuses.
But Anette is so fresh out of the church, she’s still on some Scientology e-mail lists, and one she just received from Clearwater, Florida is a doozy.
It was sent to her by Niels Kjeldsen, her former “power FSM” or field staff member, a recruiter who pushes people to get more Scientology services (and takes a cut of the proceeds).
Yesterday, Kjeldsen sent Anette a message from Clearwater that was written in Danish. Anette helped us translate it to English, and here’s the first part of it…
After a nice trip to Denmark and a trip to the islands of Greece, I am now back in Florida.
Crazy with enthusiasm is the description that best fits the latest FLAG graduations. People are raving when COB comes on stage and gives his uptone briefings. If you are not already well up the tone scale, you are inevitably carried upwards. The hall and the corridor outside are packed with people. This is where you will find the largest collection of VIPs and hardcore Scientologists. The super famous also come this way. The last graduation had Tom Cruise take my seat in the front row.
Let us translate further what Kjeldsen is talking about. Scientology’s spiritual headquarters (the Flag Land Base, or Flag) is in Clearwater, Florida, the town it invaded in 1975 after Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard had spent nine years running his worldwide organization from a small armada of ships. The Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater is Ground Zero for the church; wealthy Scientologists travel from around the world to stay there and take all but the highest level of church courses, the Operating Thetan levels up to OT VII (the highest level, OT VIII, is only delivered on Scientology’s private cruise ship, the Freewinds).
There are many wealthy and important Scientologists at Flag at any one time. And on Friday nights, graduation celebrations are held to congratulate members who have completed courses. Across the street from the Fort Harrison Hotel is the Flag Building (its more informal name is the Super Power Building), which is finally going to open on October 6 after being under construction for 15 years. In order for it to open, Miscavige (known as “COB” in the church) has been telling his followers that a vast number of conditions have to be met, including as many members as possible coming to Flag to redo low-level processes that they might have already finished years ago. (And these re-runs are not cheap.)
Not only is the Super Power Building finally going to open, it’s happening in concert with a re-launch of the Scientology “technology” itself. Called the Golden Age of Technology Phase II, it’s a reworking of arcane rules and processes which means redoing even more levels for church members. Ex-Scientologists say they’re astonished that current members would fall for yet another reworking of the same old material. (Hubbard has been dead since 1986 and by Scientology doctrine, nothing really new can be added to the “technology.” Miscavige’s innovations tend to be little more than repackaging and minor tweaks.)
Also, the annual International Association of Scientologists gala, usually held in England under a giant tent, has been moved to November 8-9 in Clearwater, where the giant tent has just been erected.
Miscavige is determined to keep Scientologists focused on these new changes, perhaps in part to distract them from all of the rotten news that has been in the press in the last year. Mike Rinder, at his blog, has been getting smuggled reports which indicate that Miscavige has personally been leading Friday night graduations at Flag in recent weeks, an extremely unusual situation.
And now, we get word that Tom Cruise was sitting in the front row.
Kjeldsen’s e-mail goes on to describe how much progress is being made at Flag (23 new Class XII auditors made, for example), and it says that 50 Freedom Medal winners have confirmed that they’ll be attending the IAS event November 8-9.
We asked Rinder, Scientology’s former top spokesman, to give us his thoughts about the news that Cruise showed up at the most recent graduation.
Miscavige lives to control people and have them hang on his every word.
Good Scientologists will only support him as long as they are convinced he is a) expanding the church and b) is “on Source.”
The smoke he has been blowing is getting very thin and so he has to come up with “bigger and better.” The extent of how over-the-top he is making his next Greatest Show On Earth directly reflects the level of desperation he feels. Things are at Defcon 1. So, he is putting all his eggs into one tent and is planning on blowing everyone away with his latest accomplishments and “proof of expansion” and “dedication to standard tech.”
As a result, he is in Clearwater to build the hype over a few months. He has ordered people in from all over the world. Staff from all orgs. All of his highest level “OTs” to come and pay for the pleasure of redoing the lowest levels of the Bridge. He is ordering everyone to be there for his big events. Cruise is most likely there for a “brush up” on his “OT Powers” and he knows Dave needs support. Things are grim, so he is showing his appreciation to the guy we are all so lucky to have, who stands above Presidents and other world leaders.
To cater to the expected throngs (really to be able to claim that “no venue was big enough in Clearwater”) he is literally erecting a big tent (during hurricane season) and is gambling on forcing large crowds to show up so he can “prove” that expansion is occurring because “this is the largest event in Scientology history.” It’s sort of embarrassing that he has not been able to hold an event that is close to the number of people that attended his 1993 “War Is Over” victory rally to celebrate defeating the IRS that he keeps replaying on video. He has to have something more than just “Ideal Orgs,” so the Super Power building finally opens its doors. How coincidental is it that the groundbreaking was done in 1998 to counter the negative press of the Lisa McPherson case, and now he is finally opening it to counter the negative press of the Garcia case, Leah Remini’s defection, and Monique Rathbun’s lawsuit. He is going to bamboozle everyone with “GAT II” (the proof that “GAT I” was an abject failure) and dust off the old new “Mark VIII” e-meters that have been sitting in warehouses for nearly a decade. And probably one of his dictionaries he has been promising for 15 years. This will prove his on-Sourciness matches his truthiness.
Everything in the Fall is going to be bigger, better, louder and make your clothes twice as white….
And after he has shot his wad, what next? Not renowned for his long term insights, Miscavige will burn that bridge when he comes to it.
“I was surprised that Tom Cruise showed up too. I thought he would keep a low profile,” Anette tells us. But then, she thought of another reason he might be there.
“Since the hardcore Scientologists are there, he’s probably looking for a girlfriend,” she quipped.
Well, she might have a point there. We don’t put much stock in recent reports that Cruise is enrolling in a “Scientology dating service” or that Laura Prepon had introduced him to a new girlfriend at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre gala in August (Cruise wasn’t actually there). But who knows, Tom may find someone he likes.
More importantly, this is the first piece of evidence in a long time that Cruise is still as loyal to Miscavige as ever, and has showed up when Scientology’s leader needed him most. Expect things to get even more frenetic in Flag as October 6 (Super Power) and November 8-9 (IAS) near.
Scientology Knocked Back in Garcia Case
Magistrate Judge Thomas B. McCoun III has produced an order that agreed with Luis Garcia’s legal team that Scientology’s subpoenas were overbroad.
The church produced the subpoenas in advance of an October 3 evidentiary hearing in the Garcia federal fraud lawsuit. At the hearing, Scientology will try to prove that Garcia’s team acted improperly by employing an attorney who used to work for the church years ago. The church asked Garcia’s lawyers — and Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, two former church officials who are witnesses in the case — to turn over voluminous amounts of evidence before the hearing. But Garcia’s attorney Ted Babbitt objected, saying that Scientology was abusing the process. Now, McCoun III has largely agreed. But he has asked Mike Rinder to produce “privilege logs” of information that documents his involvement as an adviser in the case, so the judge can decide what, of any, records must be turned over to the church.
Here’s an analysis of the ruling by one member of our own legal team…
The magistrate judge granted Babbitt’s motion for a protective order in part and denied it part. Overall, he stated that he agreed that the defendants’ subpoenas were overbroad and reaching, and he scaled down the requests to matters concerning the litigation only. He took note of the fact that while the church claimed that Mike Rinder revealed confidential information learned while an employee of the church, no confidentiality agreements were in the record.
Overall, he limited the church’s reach, but he also held Babbitt’s feet to the fire regarding creation of privilege logs for the Rinder communications, and he ruled that Marty Rathbun is a witness, not an attorney or otherwise subject to attorney-client privilege. Therefore, Babbitt is not in a position to contest the Rathbun subpoena, Rathbun is. The judge also required Babbitt to submit pay documents/agreements for Rinder.
I don’t believe the church will be happy with this ruling.
We also heard from Manhattan attorney Scott Pilutik, who added these thoughts…
It’s interesting that the judge found Marty a witness and not an employee, since that was the argument I made with regard to Monique Rathbun’s case. Since Marty Rathbun is similarly not employed by Jeffrey in Monique’s case, I wonder what utility this order might have for that case. Possibly none, because this is federal court vs the Texas state court case, and the purpose of the inquiry differs as well. But it’s still compelling. Weird that Ray Jeffery didn’t argue that the other day.
Here’s our own scorecard: Scientology files disqualification motions against opposing attorneys as a delaying tactic. In the Monique Rathbun case, the church’s motion to disqualify seemed particularly frivolous, and we expect Judge Dib Waldrip to kill it out of hand. But in the Garcia case, things are much more complex. Brian Culkin’s testimony on October 3 may be crucial, and it’s hard to tell at this point if Luis Garcia’s attorneys will come out of that hearing unscathed.
Geir Isene Complete: The interviews with J. Swift
Earlier, we posted parts of a larger interview done of Norwegian former Scientologist Geir Isene when he was visiting the U.S. recently. Now, J. Swift and Karen de la Carriere and Angry Gay Pope have released the full, nearly hour-long talk they did with Isene. They wanted to make it public this week, as Geir releases a book about Scientology in Norway.
Posted by Tony Ortega on September 16, 2013 at 07:00
E-mail your tips and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.