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What is this ‘Substack’ thing anyway, and what’s going on at the Underground Bunker?

Three months ago we made a decision to move our new daily stories to the Substack platform. It’s been a big success for us, but we know there have been hiccups for our readers, and so we thought we’d take the time to review where the Underground Bunker is now, just a week short of this website’s tenth anniversary online.

Yes, for ten years now we’ve done our best to bring you a new story every morning at 7 am Eastern, and our goal is to bring you something about Scientology you haven’t seen before. Given how sharp our audience is, with some of them having decades in Scientology under their belts, that’s not an easy task. But thanks to our network of correspondents and the numerous cases of litigation we’re following, we’ve had a ball.

So why switch to the Substack platform? Well, while our readership remains strong, we need to build a larger subscription base. The media landscape, especially for serious journalism, is a fractured one, and it’s become very challenging for reporters to make a living. The Substack platform is emerging as a way for writers to build lasting audiences.

On the other hand, the daily conversation is still going on here, at the original Underground Bunker website. So how does all this work? We thought we’d break it down to help answer some of your questions.


The Substack site:

All of our new stories appear at the Substack site, and we do our best to have a new story each morning at 7 am Eastern. If there is breaking news later in the day, a new post will go up at the Substack site.

We post every story so that anyone can see it. No subscription at all is required to see any of our stories. However, if you subscribe to the free emails, you will receive every new story to your own inbox.

As Substack CEO Chris Best pointed out to us when we talked to him while considering the move, readers who might forget to stop by our dot org website don’t need reminding from Substack. The daily story comes right to them, every morning.

Another advantage to reading our stories at Substack is that they are ad-free, and we think the formatting looks very good. (Also, while this doesn’t affect our readers, we can say that the editing features are incredibly intuitive and much easier in Substack. It’s a big improvement on our end.)

Substack also has a built-in podcasting feature, and so we decided to start a podcast in order to thank our paid subscribers. Each Saturday, we’ve been releasing a new episode of The Underground Bunker Podcast. When a new episode goes up, the previous one is opened up to all readers. We’ve also produced some special episodes for our paid subscribers, and we continue to look for other ways to thank them with bonus material.

The original Bunker site:

While the main daily news story is showing up at our Substack, all of the additional daily material that you’re used to is still showing up here at the site. Our daily features like “Source Code,” “Avast Ye Mateys,” “Overheard in the Freezone,” and “Past is Prologue” are very popular with readers, and help generate a lot of the daily conversation, which is their purpose.

And as temperamental as Disqus is as a commenting platform, it’s the one we use here and that our commenters do so many creative things with. So we’re encouraging our daily Substack readers to come back over here to the dot org site to join the conversation.

Also, this website serves as a deep and rich archive of recent Scientology history, and we aren’t about to give up on that. Seven days after a story initially appears at the Substack, we place a copy of it here at the dot org site, to keep our archive complete.

We have also added some new features here at the dot org site, a daily “Technology Cocktail” or “Scientology Happy News” that are also helping to drive the daily conversation. And we’ll keep an eye out for other items we might place here to make sure this site is still the place were you come to chat with others about the news of the day.

Our site for politics, The Lowdown:


A few years ago, politics was becoming a problem here at the Bunker. After an incredibly contentious election season in 2016, the Bunker was just as affected as so many other parts of American public life.

We knew that we were losing some readers because political observations and political arguments in our comments section was becoming so distracting. We made a couple of appeals to readers to tone down the rhetoric, and asked folks to focus on the Scientology news of the day. But we hoped to find another solution.

With the thanks of our technical team, we had found a way to create additional “blogs” on this website. (It was actually just a frightfully clever use of “categories,” and we’re indebted to our technical team for figuring this out.) With those additional landing spots, we experimented with a number of other subjects, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Nxivm news, and animal abuse.

But then, we struck on another idea: We thought it made some sense to keep an eye on the crazy QAnon phenomenon. In some ways, it shared a lot of characteristics with Scientology, and it was soaked through with politics. We wondered if we posted a few links about QAnon stories, would readers take their political observations over there?

So the Lowdown was born, and on January 5, 2021 — yes, the very day before the shit hit the fan at the Capitol in DC. What timing!

Each morning, after posting our Scientology news, we put together some links to QAnon stories, and feature some wild online conversations gleaned by a helpful researcher. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive guide to the news of the day, but we hope it’s a way to get the conversation going each morning.

We then put the link to the day’s Lowdown post here in the comments at the dot org site, and we ask readers here to take their political observations over there.

We think it’s worked really well. Not only has a substantial daily conversation sprung up there, but it’s helped to keep the political arguing here at the dot org site at a minimal level.

After all, if there’s anything that folks from the left and the right in this country ought to be able to talk about civilly and even agree on, it’s that Scientology’s abuses are worth exposing and talking about!

So that’s the structure of the Underground Bunker at this point in time. Our daily Scientology news story is at our Substack (, the secondary features and the daily Scientology conversation is here at the original website (, and the day’s political conversation is at the Lowdown (

We hope you can find your way around it without too much trouble. And we hope you can be patient with us as we prepare to take on perhaps our most challenging reporting assignment yet: the criminal trial of Danny Masterson. October is going to be lit.



Your proprietor: A podcast update

Over at the Substack today, we’ve released a special episode of our podcast with some thoughts about the challenge of reporting the Danny Masterson trial, and also a look at our recent scoops and some of our favorite observations from commenters. It’s really been some week-plus in the Bunker.


Now available: Bonus for our supporters

Episode 13 of the Underground Bunker podcast has been sent out to paid subscribers: We’ve kept in touch with Jesse Prince since his 2018 memoir came out, and we knew he’d have some surprising things to say about Scientology. Meanwhile, we’ve made episodes 1 through 12 available to everyone, with such guests as Paulette Cooper, Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan, Jefferson Hawkins, Patty Moher, Geoff Levin, Pete Griffiths, Sunny Pereira, Bruce Hines, Jeffrey Augustine, and Claire Headley. Go here to get the episodes!


Now with no restrictions: Our podcast series on the Scientology docuseries that never aired

In five episodes, we recently looked at something we’ve been curious about for several years: The potentially explosive television show, produced by Sirens Media, that would have featured L. Ron Hubbard great-grandson Jamie DeWolf as its presenter, and that would have taken an active look at the families ripped apart by Scientology’s “disconnection” policy. Unfortunately, even though the series was ready to air on the A&E network in 2016, it never has. Our podcast series turned out even better than we were hoping, and we’ve made all five episodes available to everyone.


Source Code


“Today we’re processing the present. We’re processing energy flow — live energy flow — in present time. We’re processing ‘right now.’ And ‘right now’ gets affected by ‘then,’ just as you learned in the first book and just as you learned in subsequent publications, and all you’ve been practicing to date. ‘Then’ affects ‘now.’ But all you will have to process, really, to get rid of ‘then,’ is ‘now.’ So you can process ‘now.’” — L. Ron Hubbard, September 21, 1952


Avast, Ye Mateys

“The WHY we face now is absence of recruiting, lack of full hats with checksheets and packs. The why of that was failure to make the materials filed accessibly and collateable. So it’s a snake eats its tail. No hats then brought a condition of no data available in files. A true dwindling spiral. And no hats traces to the introduction of Ethics into HCOs and that it is easier to assign a condition than to compile or checkout a hat. Hats went out when Ethics came strongly in. Without Ethics in HCO, HCO can only make stats recover by org form and hats. Ethics has a role — after all else fails. But hats and Ethics can’t belong in the same Division.” — The Commodore, September 21, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“American independents were indoctrinated into believing that the Galactic Confederacy is fairy tales. And that Galactic Patrol stories are as dangerous as Ebola.”


Past is Prologue

1996: The British TV show aired a segment on Scientology featuring a.r.s’ Martin Poulter. “Well what I’ve done is collect together the information that scientology doesn’t want people to read. I’ve collected many first-hand accounts from ex-scientologists, many documents from legal cases, several documents that were seized by the FBI when they raided Scientology headquarters and many of the postings from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. It’s a big fight in cyberspace really. There are some pro-scientology posters. Some who seem to be authorised by the church, and there’s many people who are protesting. Many ex-scientologists who are speaking about their experiences. Many people who’ve joined in the debate because of concerns about civil rights.”



Random Howdy

“I wish that the OSA or their private dickheads would show up were I live because I live in the toughest building on the toughest street in my city. The cops are afraid to come in here. Also, I am much beloved by the denizens.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Trial scheduled for October 11.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Arraigned on August 29.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff scheduled to be sentenced on Oct 28.
Rizza Islam, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for October 24 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for September 19.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Found guilty of criminal and civil contempt.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Complaint filed April 28 in Tampa federal court, Scientology moving to compel arbitration. Plaintiffs filed amended complaint on August 2.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Selection of arbitrators underway. Next court hearing: February 2, 2023.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place, next status hearing October 25. Scientology petitioning US Supreme Court over appellate ruling.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for December 6.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] A very brief note on Tom Cruise and his daughter Suri
[TWO years ago] SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS, Episode 6: Dirty tricks are a sacrament in this ‘church’
[THREE years ago] The new ‘Freewinds’: Founder L. Ron Hubbard says Scientology is ‘supermagic’!
[FOUR years ago] Is David Miscavige making changes to Scientology to fend off media glare?
[FIVE years ago] Federal judge says he has the Scientologists for a justice panel, but Garcias say, ‘not so fast’
[SIX years ago] DRONE FLYOVER: Scientology’s secret ranch where L. Ron Hubbard departed this Earth
[SEVEN years ago] United Kingdom sees Scientology documentary ‘Going Clear’ tonight on Sky Atlantic
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: Turning begging for cash into an art form
[NINE years ago] FEAR: Jon Atack on Scientology’s Essential Ingredient
[ELEVEN years ago] The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,794 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,299 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,849 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,839 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,730 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,035 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,905 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,010 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,483 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,799 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,365 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,284 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,452 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,032 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,294 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,330 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,045 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,610 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 925 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,100 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,651 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,782 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,120 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,975 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,094 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,450 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,753 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,859 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,257 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,133 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,716 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,211 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,465 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,574 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 21, 2022 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 15 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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