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Narconon Georgia Facing Closure: It Shouldn’t Have Taken a Death

Patrick Desmond

Patrick Desmond

By now you’ve probably seen our update on today’s year-in-review piece, or perhaps you’ve heard the news another way: Atlanta’s local media is reporting that state regulators are beginning a process to revoke the license of Scientology’s drug rehab program there, the Narconon Georgia facility which is at the center of a contentious wrongful death lawsuit.

[Go here for local reports on radio, television, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.]

For everyone who has followed this case closely — the folks at the Reaching for the Tipping Point forum who have worked so hard to dig up information about the facility, for example — this is stunning news.

But we want to make sure that some people — particularly the folks at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which can’t seem to write a story about Narconon without including a sneering swipe at the people who work so hard to expose Scientology’s drug rehab front group for what it is — understand that Narconon’s problems go much deeper than its licensing.

And it shouldn’t have taken the deaths of Patrick Desmond, Stacy Dawn Murphy, Hillary Holten, and Gabriel Graves to get the Narconon facilities in Atlanta and Oklahoma on the minds of government regulators.

In August, when we wrote the first press story about Narconon Georgia executive director Mary Rieser’s “letterhead” deception, we also included an overview about Narconon’s many other obfuscations. We are going to reprint that overview now.


At the time, Gary Smith, the executive director of the Narconon flagship operation, in Oklahoma, had attempted to spin local reporters with the usual disinformation about how Narconon is independent of Scientology, that it is a safe and effective drug treatment program, etc.

It was the usual smokescreen designed to prevent reporters from speaking the truth about a program that was designed to take in the gullible. And this is what we wrote then…

Get this, Gary. Those local reporters in Oklahoma you’re talking to weren’t born yesterday. They know that decades of information about Narconon’s history are online, and some of them may even be reading our stories here, where we’ve established…

— that Narconon was originally a program of the notorious Guardian’s Office, the Scientology secret service that was busted by the FBI for infiltrating the federal government in the 1970s.

— that Narconon’s “treatment” of drug addicts is virtually identical to the training programs that beginning Scientologists go through. So instead of getting drug counseling, patients are talking to ashtrays and engaging in staring contests and other L. Ron Hubbard nonsense.

— Narconon is controlled by the Association for Better Living and Education, Scientology’s “social betterment” non-profit that is staffed only by Sea Org officials, and whose president, Rena Weinberg, has been imprisoned in Scientology’s California concentration camp for executives since at least 2007.

— Narconon’s recruitment is designed to be deceptive, with hundreds of generic websites that exist in order to lead distraught parents and other loved ones to salesmen who get big commissions for directing them to Narconon, and will say virtually anything to get them there. What prospective patients and their families are never told is that they will get Scientology training rather than drug education.

— Narconon facilities contract with a local physician who examines each new patient during their intake, but then are typically never at the facility and are not on hand when emergencies occur. In Georgia, the so-called medical director had never, in her years long contract, set foot one time at the Narconon facility itself.

You can try to spin away these facts, Gary, but reporters, and government officials, are getting wise. And if there’s one thing Scientology always has a hard time with, it’s sunlight.

There’s little doubt that Narconon Georgia will fight to keep its state licensing like a cornered badger. And as Narconon’s attorneys take their cues straight from the Scientology playbook, will state regulators continue to show some backbone?

Clearly, pressure from local media is helping the state stiffen its spine. But now is the time, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to show a little more effort to explain to your readers what’s really going on.

[We’ll resume our year in review on Friday morning.]


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