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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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