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Nathan Baca: Scientology’s Nevada Drug Rehab Program Is Completely Unregulated

Last night, television journalist Nathan Baca returned to Scientology reporting with a two-part report on Scientology’s drug rehab program in Nevada, a Narconon center about 150 miles north of Las Vegas in the small town of Caliente.

Baca is known for a hard-hitting 2009 series he did about Scientology’s International Base as a reporter for a Palm Springs, California station, and he didn’t let what he learned in that experience go to waste as he turned his attention to the church’s controversial and ailing drug rehab operation.

We talked to Baca last night about his special report, and about the church’s reaction when it learned he was back on the case.

First, we’re hoping soon that we can embed Baca’s two reports here at the Bunker. Baca tells us that both will be uploaded to KLAS-TV’s YouTube channel soon, and when that happens we’ll put them here.

Here they are! Part one…


And part two…

One of the highlights of Baca’s 2009 series was his interview of Scientology’s then spokesman, Tommy Davis, during which he got Davis to admit that L. Ron Hubbard’s handwritten 1968 notes about a galactic overlord populating the Earth with alien souls 75 million years ago was genuine Scientology “scripture.” This material isn’t revealed to church members until they’ve been in the organization for several years and have spent about $100,000 or more, and they then continue for several more years exorcising those alien souls from themselves in counseling that costs up to $1,000 an hour.

Baca didn’t let that journalistic coup go to waste in this new series, as he pointed out that not only are drug rehab patients at Narconon centers undergoing Scientology training, they’re also trying to levitate ashtrays with their minds.

Baca’s report comes at a time when Narconon centers are under fire around the continent. Its facility in Quebec was shut down earlier this year, and its flagship operation in Oklahoma and another center in Georgia are under state investigations following recent patient deaths.

We’ve commented in the past that reporters, however, are often squeamish about pointing out the obvious connections between Narconon and the Church of Scientology, which ultimately controls the rehab centers through its “social betterment” arm, the Association for Better Living and Education. (As we reported in a previous story, multiple witnesses tell us that ABLE’s president, Rena Weinberg, has been in Scientology’s ecclesiastical concentration camp, “The Hole,” since at least 2007.)

Baca has little patience for that kind of squeamishness. He tells us he worked hard over the past three years to develop sources at the rehab center, including people like John Anchondo, who graduated from the program and then became a salesman for it. In Baca’s report, Anchondo and others talk about the bizarre experience of being told to levitate ashtrays with their minds as part of Narconon’s weird Scientology training.

In Georgia, we reported that Narconon’s state licensing there is controversial and now is under investigation. But Baca found that in Nevada, the rehab center operates under no licensing at all.

“As it stands right now, in Nevada, there are no restrictions in having a drug rehab center as long as you don’t accept money from the state,” he told us last night. “My overall goal is to find out why unlicensed centers can continue to operate in Nevada — and about the only unlicensed drug rehab center in Nevada is Narconon.”

In the report, you can see Narconon’s reaction to his reporting — after producing a cease-and-desist letter warning him about filming the facility, they later sent KLAS-TV a packet of information that included glowing (unsigned) testimonials about the program.

Baca tells us the station also heard directly from the Church of Scientology.

“They sent an e-mail to my boss this morning. Scientology’s main public relations department sent an e-mail to my boss blasting me and my investigation from 2009, saying in effect, we’d like to quash the story,” Baca said.

Baca said he responded, asking if Scientology was officially speaking for Narconon.

“I got no response,” he said.

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