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Director Paul Haggis pens an open letter to Marty Rathbun after Scientology’s latest smear

[Paul Haggis and Leah Remini]

Yesterday, we received this remarkable piece of writing from Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis. His appearance on this week’s Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath resulted in, predictably, a full-throated attack from the Church of Scientology. But something in that attempt to smear him stunned Haggis. We’ll let him explain…


I barely skimmed Scientology’s latest ad hominem attack on me this week. The church, quite paradoxically, largely relied upon their “arch-enemy,” Marty Rathbun, to supposedly discredit me. No one will be shocked to learn it is full of lies and blatant misrepresentations. Mike Rinder already dissected their non-responsive response and Marty’s flip-flopping assertions. But one thing stuck out to me which you may find interesting, so I will give you a little background.

Marty now claims that he masterminded my resignation from beginning to end, suggesting that my outrage over the Church’s support of Prop 8 was a smokescreen. He ignores the fact that my months-long battle with Tommy Davis and the church began in October 2008, more than six months before Marty and I had any contact.

When the Church’s executives descended on my office to handle me, I refused to reveal the names of those with whom I’d communicated. Every single one of those people, including Marty, asked me to keep their role secret – and I honored those requests. Marty, for his part, was already the subject of fierce attacks from Scientology, and didn’t need to fan those flames. If the church learned that Marty was reaching out to try and “turn” their celebs, those flames would have turned into a blast furnace. You saw what happened to him in the years that followed. So, from the time Marty sent an anonymous email to me in the summer of 2009 – at a point where I was already realizing I had to resign – until a few months ago, I kept his role secret. I thought I was protecting a friend, someone who had truly helped me.


I could not have fathomed that Marty would flip again, and return to his role of being Scientology’s attack dog, for reasons only he knows. Now Marty suggests that my agreement to protect him is “proof” that everything I said in my letter of resignation, and to Lawrence Wright, is a lie. That’s rather remarkable logic.

I will let you be the judge of Marty’s credibility.

That aside, Marty does deserve some of the credit he seeks. Through his anonymous email, he directed me to look at the articles in the St Pete Times. Later he helped me get in touch with an old friend in the Church who had disappeared, and had a story he’d never told – and didn’t want to tell anyone but me. I truly appreciated Marty’s help and support.

But if one is to be fair, the person who truly deserves credit is Jason Beghe – a fact I have likewise never revealed, but am quite sure Jason will not object to me doing so now. Jason is the one who pulled Marty out of his depression and got him to start his website; Jason is the one who gave Marty my email address and suggested that I was the kind of person who might be willing to open his eyes if made aware of the abuses within the church. Marty, I had never even met. Jason I instinctively trusted.

I had worked with Jason a few years before, and always liked him – although you couldn’t describe us as friends. Like most Scientologists, I had my head buried in the sand and actually didn’t even know Jason had left the church.

Jason is the one I met at Patrick’s Roadhouse after reading the St Pete Times article; Jason is the one who put me in touch with another “source” who was afraid to tell their story; it was Jason’s example that gave me the strength to start on the path that lead me to resign. At that time, the church was waging all-out war on him for the interview he’d done – doing everything in their power to destroy his life and ruin his career. I was deeply moved by his courage and integrity, and quietly helped him get through that time, and several months later cast him in my movie, when I was under the threat of being declared.

Including Marty and Jason, I met with a total of six people who had first-hand information about outrageous wrong-doing within the church. Marty knew two of them.

All this is preamble to something interesting I noticed in Scientology’s attack piece on me this week. It was something they inserted that only I would understand. I assume it was a veiled warning, some attempt to intimidate me – as I am the only person who would understand the significance.

It was the mention of the names “Collero” and “Lightning.”


[From Scientology’s newest attack on Haggis]

As I said earlier, when Marty and I first started communicating, he was doing so through an anonymous, encrypted Hushmail account. Rather than use his real name, he decided to call himself Lightning, the name of a blues musician he admired, Lightning Hopkins. Marty went to great lengths to keep his activities secret from the church, and to protect his identity.

Marty had a right to be apprehensive. He had first-hand knowledge of what Scientology does to its enemies, having been personally involved in many of the church’s dirty tricks and covert missions. By his own admission, he had lied on behalf of the church, chased down those who’d tried to escape from Scientology’s secretive base, and even destroyed evidence in a criminal case. He was, as he has described himself, a Scientology Warrior. So, perhaps he had more than one reason for choosing the name Lightning.

Back in 2009, whenever I wrote to Marty I used my own private email account, named after a minor character I loved from a TV series I created years ago.

The name was Collero.

There are three people in this world who know those two names. Marty, Jason, and myself. I would bet my life Jason wouldn’t reveal that; I certainly didn’t.

Which means that, in that attack piece, the Church of Scientology just admitted to one of two things: either they hacked personal emails, or Mark “Marty” Rathbun has supplied the church with my personal email communications. There are no other possibilities.

What I have written here will be of little interest to most people, but it will be of interest to some; perhaps to those who are trying to make the case that Marty took a secret, possibly even illegal, payoff from the church – to stop attacking David Miscavige, and start attacking Marty’s former “friends,” like Tony Ortega, Leah Remini, Mike Rinder, and myself.

A hack of encrypted emails is highly unlikely, which leaves us with the only other option. By blurting out information they could only get by reading our emails, by revealing the names Collero and Lightning, the church itself has announced that Marty is providing them confidential information and actively colluding with the church.


[Rathbun’s attack videos now show up in Scientology-sponsored tweets]

I never told Larry Wright or anyone else the names of the people who gave me information to help me make my decision to resign from the church. I kept their names out of it, as I did with Marty’s. To the two people whose names Marty knows, I am sorry to have to inform you that, in all likelihood, anything you ever wrote or said to Marty is most likely in the hands of Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs.

Several months ago, before Marty started his series of attack videos on Going Clear and later Aftermath, I wrote a short note to Marty. Like others, I’d grown concerned about Marty’s state of mind. I just decided to write to thank him for everything he did for me, in helping me face a difficult choice, and to tell him I would be forever grateful.

I never received a response.

So, now I write this note: Marty, I don’t know what you are doing or what you hope to gain by it, but I am afraid it is going to explode in your face. At one point you took a courageous stand. It is hard for me to watch what you are doing now, knowing who you were, even for a brief time. If you ever decide to come clean, I will be here for you, as you were for me. And I protect my friends.

— Paul Haggis

We want to supplement Paul’s point by noting that in March, we reported that another sensitive and private email sent to Marty Rathbun had ended up in the hands of the Church of Scientology. In that case, an Israeli law partner said in a January court hearing that Rathbun turned over to him a potentially damaging email which had been sent to Rathbun by another former church member, Dani Lemberger. (Lemberger was suing the church, and the attorney, Mattan Ben Shaul, was cross-examining him when he brought up the email, which included a reference to Lemberger fantasizing about killing Scientology leader David Miscavige.)

Former supporters of Marty Rathbun found it so incredible that Rathbun would have handed over such a sensitive email to an attorney representing the church in litigation against a former member, we heard a chorus of objections from some readers who insisted that the email must have been stolen from Rathbun in a hacking attack. Our questions about it to Rathbun directly weren’t answered.

So to those we heard from earlier, is it really possible that Scientology was somehow able to hack Rathbun’s accounts, including a Hushmail account, to obtain the private communications of Dani Lemberger and Paul Haggis? Or is the truth more obvious?

Also, we want to echo Paul’s statements about Jason Beghe. For at least five years now, we’ve been saying that Beghe doesn’t get enough credit for the coordinated campaign by top former Scientology officials in 2008-2009 to expose the inner workings of the organization. Beghe’s cross-country trip in 2008, shortly after he had first announced his defection from the church, should be a legendary chapter in Scientology history — and we were fortunate enough to accompany Jason on part of it, as he traveled from New York to Washington, before he went on to eventually meet up with Rathbun in Texas.

— Ed.


Our previous coverage of Marty Rathbun…

March 9: As Louis Theroux’s ‘My Scientology Movie’ hits U.S., troubling news of co-star Marty Rathbun
March 14: Memories of a Scientology warrior: Marty Rathbun’s curious career as church rebel
June 9: Thanks for the slick videos, Marty Rathbun. Here’s a not very slick one for you.
June 14: Marty Rathbun tries to rewrite the record on Scientology spying. But we have the dox.
June 15: Marty Rathbun, Victoria Britton has a question for you about Scientology and judges
June 16: Marty Rathbun’s project becomes clear: Someone’s worried about Scientology & the IRS
June 17: Paul Haggis: Marty Rathbun is using private info I gave him against Lawrence Wright
June 20: John Brousseau: Marty Rathbun is putting words in my mouth about the FBI’s Scientology probe
June 29: HowdyCon: Aussie journalist Steve Cannane’s response to Marty Rathbun
July 24: Ray Jeffrey to judge: Order Rathbuns to turn over financial records and testify
Aug 29: LIVE FROM SAN ANTONIO: Will a former Scientology enforcer be compelled to testify?
Sept 13: Ford Greene responds to Marty Rathbun, and brings up a previous Scientology secret deal


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,882 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 28 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,091 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,865 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,639 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,985 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,479 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,519 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,231 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 757 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,846 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,986 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,306 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,281 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 637 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,939 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,046 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,448 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,321 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 902 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,407 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,651 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,760 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 23, 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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