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Tonight on ‘Leah Remini’: Two witnesses detail David Miscavige’s ruthless Scientology takeover

[John Brousseau]

If L. Ron Hubbard is responsible for the millions of words that spell out every aspect of Scientology, what, exactly, qualified David Miscavige to take over as church leader after Hubbard died in 1986?

That’s one of the questions that tonight’s episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath tries to answer, and we think you’re going to find that answer pretty compelling. Once again, Leah Remini shows that she has huge respect for her audience, and isn’t afraid to dive deeply into Scientology’s arcane ideas and complex past.

To examine the church leader’s rise to power, Remini and Mike Rinder sit down in the first half of the episode with John Brousseau, certainly one of the best people to talk to if you want to know about David Miscavige.

Brousseau and Miscavige were brothers-in-law for 16 years, for example.

That’s one of the things we learned about “J.B.” when we did our own two-part story about Brousseau’s really amazing experience in Scientology — from L. Ron Hubbard’s personal driver, to Tom Cruise’s fix-it man, to the guy who actually put the bars on the doors and windows of “The Hole” at Int Base.


And in one of our favorite details, Brousseau was sitting in a van filled with audio equipment parked outside a Los Angeles hotel while inside the hotel, a wired David Miscavige was explaining to Mary Sue Hubbard that, because of her indictment and conviction in the Snow White Program prosecutions, she would have to step down from her post overseeing the church’s spy wing — the Guardian’s Office — and lose all power in the organization. That was in 1981, a couple of years before Mary Sue’s appeals ran out and she had to go to federal prison (she served a year of the five she was sentenced to for conspiracy in the Snow White break-ins), and more than a year after her husband L. Ron Hubbard had gone into total seclusion.

John Brousseau witnessed that as well, and was the last person to shake Hubbard’s hand after he climbed into a van and was driven away by Pat and Annie Broeker, Hubbard’s companions in hiding during his final years.

Just a few days before he died in 1986, Hubbard signed an order anointing the Broekers as “Loyal Officers,” superior to the rank of Captain in the Sea Org, in what seemed like a pretty clear statement that he expected the Broekers to run Scientology after he died. But soon after Hubbard’s death, a new order canceling the “Loyal Officers” decree was circulated as David Miscavige began systematically removing everyone who could make a claim for the church leadership position.

As Leah rightly points out, however, it was the Sea Org itself, created by L. Ron Hubbard, which required that kind of ruthless push for dictatorial control. If Miscavige hadn’t muscled others out of the way, someone else would have.

Brousseau describes what Miscavige is like, and for even more anecdotes about Miscavige’s personality, please do check out our two-part series. There’s a fishing scene you really must read about if you haven’t already.

Brousseau is also asked about one of the mysteries in Scientology that the public is perhaps more obsessed with than anything else: The disappearance of David Miscavige’s wife, Shelly.

We’ve written about Shelly vanishing from Int Base many, many times, and John Brousseau’s eyewitness account is one of the main reasons why we believe she’s been held at the CST Headquarters compound near Lake Arrowhead, California for the last 12 years.

And in this episode, Brousseau adds a detail we hadn’t heard before, that he believes Shelly was undergoing intense sec-checking (interrogations) in the days leading up to her disappearance in the summer of 2005. And, like others, he says that Shelly isn’t going anywhere.

“He [David Miscavige] will do everything he can to keep her where she is, until the day she dies,” Brousseau says.

In the second half of the episode, Leah and Mike talk with Gary Morehead, who went by the code name “Jackson” when he was assigned in his early 20s to be the head security officer at the secretive Int Base international management compound near Hemet, California.


[Gary “Jackson” Morehead]

It was Morehead who helped develop the “blow drill” at Int Base, the complex set of strategies to track down and bring back any Sea Org member who made a run for it from the huge desert compound.

Morehead explains that one of the ways the church tracked people was to put a travel agency in the organization itself, with a terminal at the Author Services building on Hollywood Boulevard, so that Scientology can simply look up who is flying when, which helps explain a lot.

What was Gary’s breaking point, Leah asks him, and Morehead talks about his wife becoming pregnant while they were both still in the Sea Org — at a time when Sea Org women who became pregnant were pressured to have abortions, because having children was against the rules.

Morehead is already on record, in a video he made with Mark Bunker, explaining that one of his jobs as security chief at Int Base was to help with that mission, putting pressure on young women to abort their pregnancies in the name of keeping up their work in the Sea Org. But now, he reveals that he even had to perform that duty on his own wife, convincing her to end her pregnancy.

It’s a heartbreaking moment, and if you know Gary as the unflappable and affable guy he is, it’s hard to watch him in such distress.

This show always seems to find a way to hit us in the solar plexus.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,871 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,854 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,628 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,974 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,468 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,508 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,220 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 746 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,835 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,975 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,295 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,270 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 626 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,928 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,035 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,437 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,310 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 891 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,396 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,640 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,749 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 12, 2017 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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