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#22 [url]

Mar 2 11 3:20 PM

Scientology Inc Threatens Revenge on Paul Haggis

The following threat was posted on a blog created and operated by the Office of Special Affairs, the dirty tricks intelligence operation of Church of Scientology “leader” David Miscavige.   Last year I revealed on this blog that Scientology Inc was busy buying up every version of my name and Mike Rinder’s name they could figure:  http://markrathbun.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/david-miscavige-wants-to-be-like-mike/
Since this blog began, Scientology Inc has created more than twenty web sites and blogs devoted to attacking me.   After we exposed one after another and the unlawful and tasteless content on each, and Scientology Inc shut one after another down, they settled on one central “anti Marty” site. Again they pirated my name in a vampirish attempt to garner an audience, “martyrathbunblog.com”
The following quotation is taken from the latest posting on that David Miscavige ordered and micro managed site:
 
Anyone with any sense would know that the claims made by Paul Haggis in the recent media attack are what has been fed by Marty Rathbun, Mike Rinder and his extremist friends who have been making such scurrilous and false accusations for years. The journalist should have at least cross-checked some of the facts with someone who wasn’t a vicious religious bigot, scared of what the Church should know about them.
As a sure indication that there are skeletons he’d rather hide, Haggis tried to head off possible revelations of what he’s really been doing, saying that he expected a “scandal” about him to be the result of his attack on the Church. Methinks he knows he deserves to be exposed…hmmmmm….
Hell, he admitted to early criminal acts he withheld, and you can be sure that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
We’ll stay tuned…
While Scientology Inc has to date been very careful to cover Miscavige’s ass by candy coating his injunctions to “take out” myself and others, apparently the impact of the New Yorker article has caused them to yet again over-reach.  This latest passage I can intrepret no other way than as a threat.   It is a threat to unlawfully use confessional data among other things. 
For Miscavige to direct such thuggery (and ask Mike Rinder if there is a chance Miscavige doesn’t micro manage that blog down to the placement of commas) publicly is testament to his complete loss of sanity, in my opinion.
http://markrathbun.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/scientology-inc-threatens-revenge-on-paul-haggis/

Here is the letter that Haggis sent to Tommy Davis resigning from the cult. EXCELLENT letter!

The letter:
Blogger preface:
I received a copy of a letter sent to Tommy Davis written by a rather influential person. The source who provided this was a third party recipient of the letter and was able to establish to my satisfaction that the letter is authentic . I have decided to publish portions over several days so that the import of the issues it covers are fully aired and considered by readers. The source and I hope that the author of the letter will understand that by publishing the letter we mean no disrespect. Quite the contrary, it is our level of respect for the author’s life work and integrity that makes us confident many people will benefit from the author’s example, others will feel vindicated, and great strides will be made in ending the abuses the letter details
 
August 19, 2009
Dear          ,
Attached find a letter to Tommy Davis. I am sending it to a handful of people, who I feel deserve an explanation. This was a personal decision; I am not seeking anyone’s agreement.  Feel free to call or write me once you’ve read it, but do not feel compelled to do so.
My very best,
Tommy,
As you know, for ten months now I have been writing to ask you to make a public statement denouncing the actions of the Church of Scientology of San Diego. Their public sponsorship of Proposition 8, a hate-filled legislation that succeeded in taking away the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens of California – rights that were granted them by the Supreme Court of our state – shames us.
I called and wrote and implored you, as the official spokesman of the church, to condemn their actions. I told you I could not, in good conscience, be a member of an organization where gay-bashing was tolerated.
In that first conversation, back at the end of October of last year, you told me you were horrified, that you would get to the bottom of it and “heads would roll.” You promised action. Ten months passed. No action was forthcoming. The best you offered was a weak and carefully worded press release, which praised the church’s human rights record and took no responsibility. Even that, you decided not to publish.
The church’s refusal to denounce the actions of these bigots, hypocrites and homophobes is cowardly. I can think of no other word.  Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent.
I joined the Church of Scientology thirty-five years ago. During my twenties and early thirties I studied and received a great deal of counseling. While I have not been an active member for many years, I found much of what I learned to be very helpful, and I still apply it in my daily life. I have never pretended to be the best Scientologist, but I openly and vigorously defended the church whenever it was criticized, as I railed against the kind of intolerance that I believed was directed against it. I had my disagreements, but I dealt with them internally. I saw the organization – with all its warts, growing pains and problems – as an underdog. And I have always had a thing for underdogs.
But I reached a point several weeks ago where I no longer knew what to think. You had allowed our name to be allied with the worst elements of the Christian Right. In order to contain a potential “PR flap” you allowed our sponsorship of Proposition 8 to stand. Despite all the church’s words about promoting freedom and human rights, its name is now in the public record alongside those who promote bigotry and intolerance, homophobia and fear.
The fact that the Mormon Church drew all the fire, that no one noticed, doesn’t matter. I noticed. And I felt sick. I wondered how the church could, in good conscience, through the action of a few and then the inaction of its leadership, support a bill that strips a group of its civil rights.

This was my state of mind when I was online doing research and chanced upon an interview clip with you on CNN. The interview lasted maybe ten minutes – it was just you and the newscaster. And in it I saw you deny the church’s policy of disconnection. You said straight-out there was no such policy, that it did not exist.
I was shocked. We all know this policy exists. I didn’t have to search for verification – I didn’t have to look any further than my own home.
You might recall that my wife was ordered to disconnect from her parents because of something absolutely trivial they supposedly did twenty-five years ago when they resigned from the church. This is a lovely retired couple, never said a negative word about Scientology to me or anyone else I know – hardly raving maniacs or enemies of the church. In fact it was they who introduced my wife to Scientology.
Although it caused her terrible personal pain, my wife broke off all contact with them. I refused to do so. I’ve never been good at following orders, especially when I find them morally reprehensible.
For a year and a half, despite her protestations, my wife did not speak to her parents and they had limited access to their grandchild. It was a terrible time.
That’s not ancient history, Tommy. It was a year ago.
And you could laugh at the question as if it was a joke? You could publicly state that it doesn’t exist?
To see you lie so easily, I am afraid I had to ask myself: what else are you lying about?
And that is when I read the recent articles in the St. Petersburg Times.  They left me dumbstruck and horrified.
These were not the claims made by “outsiders” looking to dig up dirt against us. These accusations were made by top international executives who had devoted most of their lives to the church. Say what you will about them now, these were staunch defenders of the church, including Mike Rinder, the church’s official spokesman for 20 years!
Tommy, if only a fraction of these accusations are true, we are talking about serious, indefensible human and civil rights violations. It is still hard for me to believe.  But given how many former top-level executives have said these things are true, it is hard to believe it is all lies.
And when I pictured you assuring me that it is all lies, that this is nothing but an unfounded and vicious attack by a group of disgruntled employees, I am afraid that I saw the same face that looked in the camera and denied the policy of disconnection. I heard the same voice that professed outrage at our support of Proposition 8, who promised to correct it, and did nothing.
I carefully read all of your rebuttals, I watched every video where you presented the church’s position, I listened to all your arguments – ever word. I wish I could tell you that they rang true. But they didn’t.
I was left feeling outraged, and frankly, more than a little stupid.
And though it may seem small by comparison, I was truly disturbed to see you provide private details from confessionals to the press in an attempt to embarrass and discredit the executives who spoke out. A priest would go to jail before revealing secrets from the confessional, no matter what the cost to himself or his church. That’s the kind of integrity I thought we had, but obviously the standard in this church is far lower – the public relations representative can reveal secrets to the press if the management feels justified. You even felt free to publish secrets from the confessional in Freedom Magazine – you just stopped short of labeling them as such, probably because you knew Scientologists would be horrified, knowing you so easily broke a sacred vow of trust with your parishioners.
How dare you use private information in order to label someone an “adulteress?” You took Amy Scobee’s most intimate admissions about her sexual life and passed them onto the press and then smeared them all over the pages your newsletter! I do not know the woman, but no matter what she said or did, this is the woman who joined the Sea Org at 16! She ran the entire celebrity center network, and was a loyal senior executive of the church for what, 20 years? You want to rebut her accusations, do it, and do it in the strongest terms possible – but that kind of character assassination is unconscionable.
So, I am now painfully aware that you might see this an attack and just as easily use things I have confessed over the years to smear my name. Well, luckily I have never held myself up to be anyone’s role model.
The great majority of Scientologists I know are good people who are genuinely interested in improving conditions on this planet and helping others. I have to believe that if they knew what I now know, they too would be horrified. But I know how easy it was for me to defend our organization and dismiss our critics, without ever truly looking at what was being said; I did it for thirty-five years. And so, after writing this letter, I am fully aware that some of my friends may choose to no longer associate with me, or in some cases work with me. I will always take their calls, as I always took yours. However, I have finally come to the conclusion that I can no longer be a part of this group. Frankly, I had to look no further than your refusal to denounce the church’s anti-gay stance, and the indefensible actions, and inactions, of those who condone this behavior within the organization. I am only ashamed that I waited this many months to act. I hereby resign my membership in the Church of Scientology.
Sincerely,
Paul Haggis
Ps. I’ve attached our email correspondence.  At some point it became evident that you did not value my concerns about the church’s tacit support of an amendment that violated the civil rights of so many of our citizens. Perhaps if you had done a little more research on me, the church’s senior management wouldn’t have dismissed those concerns quite so cavalierly. While I am no great believer in resumes and awards, this is what you would have discovered:
* Founder, Artists For Peace and Justice,
- sponsoring schools, an orphanage and a children’s hospital in the slums of Haiti
* Co-Founder, BrandAid Foundation and BrandAid Project
- marketing the work of artisans from the poorest countries in the world,
* Board Member, Office of The Americas
- supporting peace and justice initiatives around the world
* Board Member, Center For The Advancement of Non-Violence
* Member and active supporter, Amnesty International
* Member, President’s Council, Defenders of Wildlife
* Member and fundraiser, Environment California and CalPirg
* Member and Award Recipient, American Civil Liberties Union
* Member and supporter, Death Penalty Focus
* Member and supporter, Equality For All
* Fundraiser, NPH (Our Little Brothers) – for the children of the slums of Haiti
* Member, Citizens Commission on Human Rights
* Patron with Honors, IAS
And formerly:
* Trustee, Religious Freedom Trust
* Board Member and fundraiser, Hollywood Education and Literacy Project
* Board Member and fundraiser, For The Arts, For Every Child
– supporting art and music in public schools
* Board Member and fundraiser, The Christic Institute
- supporting Human Rights in Central America
* Founding Board Member, Earth Communication Office
* Working Board Member, Environmental Media Association
* Fundraiser, El Rescate – Human Rights for El Salvador
* Fundraiser, PAVA – Aid and Human Rights in Guatemala
Awards for outspoken support of Civil and Human Rights:
* Valentine Davies Award – Writers Guild of America
“for bringing honor and dignity to writers everywhere”
*Bill of Rights Award – American Civil Liberties Union
*Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award – Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
*Peace & Justice Award – Office of the Americas, presented by Daniel Ellsberg
*Signis Award, Venezia, World Catholic Association
*ALMA Award – National Council of Latino Civil Rights
*Ethel Levitt Award for Humanitarian Service – Levitt & Quinn
*Prism Award – Entertainment Industries Council
*Humanitas Prize (2) – Humanitas
*Legacy Award, for Artistic and Humanitarian Achievement
*Environmental Media Award – EMA
*EMA Green Seal Award – EMA
*Image Award – NAACP
*Creative Integrity Award – Multicultural Motion Picture Association
*EDGE Awards (2) – Entertainment Industries Council
*Artistic Freedom Award – City of West Hollywood
*Catholics in Media Award – Catholics in Media Associates
And many dozens of fundraisers and salons at our home on behalf of Human and Civil Rights, the Environment, the Peace Movement, Education, Justice and Equality.


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#23 [url]

Mar 2 11 4:19 PM

Was a Vanity Fair Editor Secretly Working for the Church of Scientology?

By John Cook

March 1, 2011 | 2:05 p.m

Was a Vanity Fair Editor Secretly Working for the Church of Scientology?
 
Gawker.com, where the author is employed as a staff writer, declined to publish this story. 



Did the Church of Scientology use a Vanity Fair contributing editor to infiltrate and gather intelligence on the cult's enemies in the media?

John Connolly is a well-known, and well-liked, character in New York media circles. He's a former NYPD detective and stock broker who landed a third career as an investigative reporter for Vanity Fair, where he is a contributing editor, Radar, the Daily Beast, Gawker, and other outlets. Connolly is an investigator of the old school, employed more for his ability to run a license plate number than his facility with prose. In 1990, while freelancing for Forbes, he was accused by a federal judge of using his old NYPD badge to obtain sealed court documents. According to USA Today, his stint as a stockbroker ended in the 1980s with a $100,000 civil penalty and lifetime ban from the Securities and Exchange Commission. He's a mischievous tipster, an inveterate gossip, and an information broker of the highest order. He speaks with a cartoonish New York accent and knows literally everybody. And according to the two highest ranking Scientology officials to ever leave the church, he's been a paid informant for the cult for two decades.

The accusation comes from Marty Rathbun, who ranked so high in the organization before he left that he served as Tom Cruise's "auditor," or confessor, and Mike Rinder, Scientology's former chief spokesman. Both men have defected from the church and accuse its current leader, David Miscavige, of ruling through violence and terror. On February 15, Rathbun posted to his blog a lengthy internal church memo, purportedly written by Linda Hamel, chief of the church's faux-CIA "Office of Special Affairs," revealing Connolly to have secretly supplied intelligence to the church on the preparation of Andrew Morton's 2008 biography of Tom Cruise. According to the memo, Connolly approached Morton in 2006 under the pretense of writing "an article for Vanity Fair about the books Morton has done on celebrities including the one he is writing on Tom Cruise." He proceeded, the memo says, to pump Morton for information about his book and report it back to the church:

Connolly was here in LA working on the Pellicano story ["Talk of the Town," Vanity Fair, June 2006] and contacted Morton and met with him on the basis of gaining his cooperation to be interviewed for an article for Vanity Fair about the books Morton has done on celebrities including the one he is writing on Tom Cruise. Connolly wanted to see what Morton was like and get any information about where Morton is currently at with regard to writing the book and to see if Morton would agree to be interviewed for an article. Based on the meeting, Connolly said that Morton seems to have finished his research already and is busy writing the book.

Connolly told Morton that it would not be a puff piece and would show both sides including what would be said about Morton. (Connolly will use the article to investigate Morton's past treatment of other celebrities, use of sleazy sources, etc. that would undermine Morton's credibility). Morton said he would check with St. Martin's Press to get their take on cooperating for the story. Morton seems to be interested in generating publicity for the book.

Connolly's impression of Morton is that he is a serious writer and is a focused person but enjoyable to talk to. He knows how to use his charm to get people to talk. Morton also told him that it only took him five weeks to write the Monica Lewinsky book - so he is capable of churning out a lot in a short period of time.

Morton said that he thought that Tom Cruise was a good story and that is why he wanted to write the book. The reporter got the impression from talking with Morton that Morton has collected a lot of information about the Church and that this will be well covered in the book. Morton also mentioned that he has an assistant who is working for him.

[snip]

Connolly's impression is that Morton is a formidable adversary who is not going to back down. He thinks that Morton has made up his mind already as to the angle of the book but did not specifically say what it was.

[snip]

In the US Connolly, wants to do an investigative story and put a piece together on Morton and his use of sleazy sources in the books he has done about celebrities such as Madonna, the Beckhams and Tom Cruise. This would attack Morton on his reputation questioning the credibility of his sources.

The memo proves, in Rathbun's words, that "Connolly has been a Church of Scientology Office of Special Affairs informant for nearly two decades." In a phone interview, Rathbun told me that Connolly's work for the church was extensive. He was an operative, Rathbun says, of a Los Angeles cop-turned-private-investigator named Gene Ingram who was well known as a hired spook for Scientology. "I hired Ingram," says Rathbun. "And I remember distinctly that he would talk about his pal John Connolly. For years I periodically saw his name in programs and reports as an active source of information and stories." Rathbun cited examples: Connolly was involved, he says, in gathering intelligence on a 1993 Premiere story on Tom Cruise that the church was particularly concerned about. The details are hazy, Rathbun says, "but I remember Connolly getting intel on that story." Rathbun also says Connolly was involved in "trying to influence" vocal ex-Scientologist Chuck Beatty in 2006.

Rinder, who was responsible for, in church parlance, "handling" the news media, corroborates Rathbun's account. "Connolly was a resource to deal with media problems," he told me. "Ingram used to tout Connolly's virtues pretty often—'Connolly can handle this; he'll find out what's going on and he's got lines into all media.' That was something I heard many, many times. Ingram even met with Connolly at the Celebrity Center in Los Angeles." Like Rathbun, Rinder recalled vaguely that Connolly was involved in reconnoitering the Premiere story. He also said Connolly "was used to gather information" on Wensley Clarkson, a British reporter who wrote an unauthorized biography of Tom Cruise in 1998.

Both Rinder and Rathbun say Connolly was paid for his services. "Absolutely," said Rinder. "No one ever does work like that for free. Not for the church." Likewise, Rathbun said, "I assume he was paid. That's the way Ingram operated." Neither man claimed to have direct knowledge of payments. Ingram didn't respond to repeated phone calls. Neither did the church.


SEEING RATHBUN'S POST, and the purported memo, came as a shock to me. I know John Connolly. He wrote an item for Gawker just a few weeks ago. We worked together for months at Radar, where I was a senior reporter and he was on contract as a tipster, fixer, and all around über-source. We worked closely together on a feature story about the Los Angeles paparazzi. And he'd helped me out on a lengthy 2008 feature about Anonymous' war on Scientology. Connolly had received an inquiry from a member of Anonymous, which he handed off to me, and gave me the names and numbers of two helpful former Scientologists.

While I was working on that story, Connolly told me casually that he was friendly with some private investigators who work for the church. There was nothing particularly nefarious about that—Connolly's friendships with various private eyes is one of the reasons he's useful to places like Radar and Vanity Fair. The fact that some of them counted the church as clients, and that he freely admitted that, struck me as innocuous enough. And when he told me that one of those friends actually called him to ask who I was and what I was reporting on, I was more happy to know that my reporting had struck a nerve than worried about what Connolly might tell him. I trusted him.

Then a strange thing happened. Connolly called me up, out of the blue, and asked, "You live in Brooklyn, right?" Yes, I replied. "What neighborhood? I was just there visiting family, and it's so great." I told him that I lived in Park Slope, which isn't strictly true: I live in Windsor Terrace, an adjacent neighborhood. It's often easier to say Park Slope, which people know. But I was also immediately suspicious of why Connolly would want to know, so I decided to shade my answer a little bit in case he was helping a Scientology operative figure out which of the 62 public listings for a "John Cook" in Brooklyn was mine. I never suffered any Scientology harassment at my home, and I never confronted Connolly about why he needed to know where I lived. We continued to stay in touch, and he would occasionally tip me to stories.

When I read Rathbun's accusations, that call suddenly loomed large in my mind.

I called Connolly. He told me that he wasn't feeling well, and that he'd been "shot up with so many drugs" after a recent surgical procedure to correct a heart arrhythmia. He'd already seen Rathbun's post. "I've gotta tell you, it's bullshit," he said. How would the church know about his meetings with Morton? "Maybe they were tapping my phones," he said. "Maybe it's a forgery." Connolly admitted that he knew Ingram, but said the information flowed the other way in their relationship: "Ingram drank too much one night and told me what they were doing to Rich Behar," he told me. "I'm the one who called Behar and told him what the church was up to." Behar was a reporter for Time who wrote a detailed expose on the church in 1991 and was rewarded with a $416 million lawsuit and exhaustive investigation into his personal life by the church that included obtaining his phone records and credit reports. (Behar corroborated Connolly's account, telling me that Connolly contacted Time's legal department in the early 1990s with a tip "that an agent for the church had told John over drinks that he [the agent] was proud of a particular thing he had done to gather information about a family member of mine," and that Behar was "highly appreciative of what he did in this effort to help us.")

Connolly did approach Morton in 2006, as the Hamel memo states. Patricia Greenway was Morton's assistant on the Cruise book. She told me that Connolly introduced himself as a writer for Vanity Fair who was working on a book about Anthony Pellicano, and was interested in trying to connect Pellicano to Scientology. "He was asking me to tell him what I knew about Scientology," Greenway says. "He was pumping me for information. I spoke to him because Andrew asked me to." Contrary to the memo, however, Greenway says Connolly never told her that he was working on a story about Morton—just that he was a Vanity Fair writer working on a Pellicano book.

As far as I can tell, Connolly has never written a word about Scientology. Vanity Fair has never devoted a feature to the cult, though it has turned up tangentially in several stories. Beth Kseniak, a spokeswoman for the magazine, says Connolly has never been assigned to write about Scientology aside from contributing reporting to a 2008 Nancy Jo Sales story about two people who believed, falsely, that they were being harassed by the church. Radar and Spy, two other publications he's been associated with, covered it extensively, but never under Connolly's byline. He has claimed in the past that he's helped out behind the scenes on coverage of the church. When Andrew Morton e-mailed him to ask for an explanation of the Hamel memo, Connolly replied, among other things, that "I have worked on a number of anti-Scientology stories without getting a byline-my choice." One of those "anti-Scientology" stories is my 2008 Radar piece. I've been told by two former Scientologists that Connolly has claimed credit for some or all of that story, despite the fact that his participation consisted simply of referring me to three sources. In 2005, Radar published a damning story about Tom Cruise's relationship to the church; its author Kim Master says Connolly didn't play a role in it.

Which makes it odd that Connolly has repeatedly, almost obsessively, called a variety of prominent ex-Scientologists for years to keep up with them, all under the pretense of developing stories for Vanity Fair. "He called me hundreds of times," says Chuck Beatty, a former Scientologist who frequently helps reporters covering the cult. "He'd say, 'If there's any new defectors, let me know.' He asked me lots about Cruise. He asked me lots and lots about Paul Haggis." Haggis and his angry departure from the church were the subjects of a recent devastating story by the New Yorker's Lawrence Wright. "He was real heavy to find out who Blown for Good was." Blown for Good was the screen name of an anonymous former highly placed Scientologist who was active in a number of anti-Scientology message boards. He was later revealed to be Marc Headley, a church volunteer who spent 15 years on its Southern California desert compound. "He was repeatedly asking who Blown for Good was," Beatty says.

Connolly also maintained extremely close contact with vocal defector named Larry Brennan. "He's probably called me over 50 or more times," Brennan told me. "Sometimes twice or more a week. He was definitely checking up on me. We'd talk about our daughters. Sometimes I'd wonder—you're calling me once or twice a week, week in and week out, but never writing a story? He told me he was trying to find an angle."

Another high-profile Scientology dissident Connolly kept in touch with is Jason Beghe, a film and television actor who publicized his defection from the church in a series of YouTube videos calling it "very dangerous for your spiritual health." Connolly began calling after his break in 2008, Beghe says, and kept coming back. "I've been talking to him for a couple years at least," Beghe says. "He was always just interested in what was going on, or he just wanted to shoot the shit. He would try to blow smoke up my ass—'I like the cut of your jib, Jason.'" Beghe says he always suspected that Connolly wasn't keeping in touch for journalistic purposes. "I was waiting for the church to try something on me," he says. "And when Connolly first came on my radar, I was suspicious. So I'd always give him foggy data, because I believed I was talking to the church. And then a couple years ago, Marty told me, 'Yeah, I think that guy did undercover work for the church.'"

Connolly's contacts with these anti-Scientology figures certainly don't prove anything. In fact, they're exactly what you'd expect from a reporter covering the church. Trouble is, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that Connolly actually ever covered the church. And there is evidence, in the form of Rathbun's memo, that he worked for it. "He would definitely ask me about the kind of stuff that a Scientology spy would ask you about," says Brennan. "But it's also the stuff a reporter and friend would ask you about."

It was a recent call from Connolly to Beghe that sparked Rathbun to publish the memo. Wright's New Yorker story had just come out, and Connolly called Beghe to pump him for information about it. And he started in on a line of questioning accusing Rathbun and Rinder of plotting to take over Scientology. "He said, 'Marty and Mike, they're trying to take over the church,'" Beghe told me. "Connolly was trying to plant internecine turmoil between people the church regards as enemies." If anti-Scientologist activists came to believe that Rinder and Rathbun wanted to depose Miscavige and take over leadership of the church rather than destroy it, a schism could be exploited. Beghe called Rathbun to tell him about the conversation, and Rathbun decided to expose Connolly. "He was not only a data collector," Rathbun says. "He was an agent provocateur, and he was running an operation on Jason."

Connolly freely admits that he accused Rathbun and Rinder of trying to take over the church. When I first called him to ask about the memo, he said, "They got spooked because I was asking about the schism. You and I should do a story on it together." He explained to Morton that "I have been poking around and trying to get a publication to do a story about the possible takeover/schism of Scientology which apparently has made some people nervous."

IF CONNOLLY WERE a paid agent of the church used to run interference on stories the church was worried about, one would expect to see his fingerprints on Wright's New Yorker piece, which was highly anticipated. He never contacted Wright or tried to gather intel on the story, but Wright says Connolly's name came up during his reporting. "I was alert to surveillance and that sort of thing," Wright said. "I didn't feel like it was happening. But I did hear the name. It was during one of many 'they're gonna get you' conversations I had with various ex-church people. The conversation had to do with, 'There will be an article about you, they'll try to smear you. And John Connolly's name came up. In the welter of names that had been thrown at me, his was one."

Rolling Stone contributing editor Janet Reitman spent the last five years working on her book Inside Scientology, which will be released later this year. It's based on a critical 2006 Rolling Stone article, and would likewise be a prime target for someone operating as a media informant. Reitman told me she's never met Connolly and that he never attempted to contact her. But she was surprised when Brennan, one of her sources for the book, called her a year or so ago to tell her that Connolly had been talking about her. "He certainly knew a lot about me and about my book, when it was coming out," she said. "And he told Brennan how much he liked my writing."

I could find no evidence that Connolly was involved in any of the specific operations that Rinder and Rathbun mentioned to me. Beatty said he spoke to Connolly all the time, but couldn't recall any specific instances of Connolly trying to influence him, as Rathbun claimed. John Richardson, the author of the 1993 Premiere story that Rinder and Rathbun recall Connolly gathering intelligence on, says Connolly never contacted him during his reporting. "We certainly did have a lot of trouble with the church during that story," he said. "I went to interview Rathbun and Rinder [who were at that time still in the church] with an editor of mine. They'd only known for two days that he'd be joining me, and in that time they learned that he was gay and had worked for Rolling Stone as an assistant, neither of which were public. So they definitely had someone working on us. Someone inside the media must have done it."

Richardson did have a run-in with Connolly not long after, though. He had been working on a subsequent story on Heidi Fleiss, the Hollywood Madam, that was killed for a variety of reasons. Richardson says that a year later, Connolly, writing either for Spy or New York, began reporting a story based on the premise that Richardson dropped the Fleiss story in exchange for a bribe. "We had to send a cease and desist order, and he stopped," Richardson says. "I don't know if that was a Scientology revenge plot or just an honest mistake."

Wensley Clarkson, the author of the unauthorized Cruise biography that Rinder says Connolly gathered information on, says he's never met him and is unfamiliar with the name.

When I called various former colleagues of Connolly's to run Rathbun's accusations by them, few were truly surprised. But rather than condemn him as a Scientology rat, they shrugged and said: "He's playing both sides. That's Connolly." Indeed, for someone who trades in gossip and information, being regarded by the church as an asset could be exceedingly useful. Who knows what valuable secrets Connolly could extract from Ingram, or other church members, in exchange for using his credentials to keep tabs on a few harmless critics of the church, or check up on a reporter now and again? Reporters trade information with sources all the time. Moreover, if Rathbun's accusations are true and his memo genuine, who's to say Connolly passed on accurate information? If he was meeting with Ingram at the church's Celebrity Center in Los Angeles—an invitation I wouldn't turn down—the potential upsides in terms of inside information about Hollywood could be huge. The downside, of course, would be lying to and spying on your colleagues and sources.

I spoke to Connolly briefly on the phone after I first read Rathbun's memo. After speaking to Rathbun, Rinder, and others mentioned in this post, I repeatedly tried to reach him again to seek further explanation and clarification. He declined to return my phone calls or e-mails. My inquiry to Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter was forwarded to spokeswoman Beth Kseniak, who told me that the memo's claim that Connolly used his Vanity Fair credentials to get close to Morton is false. "As far as we're concerned, the claim that he approached Andrew Morton as a Vanity Fair reporter is unfounded." When I asked her for Carter's response to the claim that Connolly had been feeding intel to the church for 20 years, she said, "You're going to have to go to Connolly on that."

editorial@observer.com

 http://www.observer.com/2011/media/was-vanity-fair-writer-reporting-church-scientology-or-its-payroll?page=0



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#24 [url]

Mar 3 11 2:05 AM

Imagine a church so dangerous, you must sign a release
> form before you can receive its "spiritual assistance."
> This assistance might involve holding you against your
> will for an indefinite period, isolating you from
> friends and family often for years, and denying you access to
> appropriate medical care. You will of course be billed
> for this treatment - assuming you survive it. If not,
> the release form absolves your caretakers of all
> responsibility for your suffering and death.
 
Welcome to the
.
I am so glad that the FBI is still investigating. I still am furious that they got the IRS to capitulate and make them a legal church - disgusting.

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#26 [url]

Mar 3 11 3:16 PM

FBI investigating Scientology, defectors say

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
In Print:


FBI agents investigating human trafficking have interviewed several high-ranking defectors from the who spoke out to the St. Petersburg Times over the past two years about abusive and coercive practices within the church.

Five former church staffers confirmed Monday that the FBI interviewed them individually over the past 15 months about their experiences in the church's religious order, the Sea Org.

They said agents asked detailed questions primarily about working and living conditions at Scientology's remote international management base in the desert east of . The defectors — Amy Scobee, Mike Rinder, Tom DeVocht, Jeff Hawkins and Gary Morehead — said they described to agents how Sea Org staffers were restricted to the compound, intimidated, degraded and coerced to work long hours for little pay.

The defectors' account of life iinside Scientology first appeared in the Times in a 2009 investigative series titled The Truth Rundown.

The church has emphatically denied that any staffers were mistreated and says the defectors were lying when they claimed that church leader David Miscavige physically attacked managers whose work performance displeased him.

News of an FBI investigation broke early Monday on the website of the New Yorker magazine. Investigative journalist Lawrence Wright presents in the current issue a lengthy profile of former Scientology parishioner Paul Haggis, an Academy Award winning screenwriter and film director who left the church in 2009, citing a range of concerns, among them the revelations reported in the Truth Rundown.

Wright reported that former Scientology executive Scobee, former international base security chief Morehead and DeVocht, a former church manager in , all were interviewed by the FBI as part of a human trafficking investigation he characterized as ongoing.

On Monday, Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis said that the New Yorker article was "nothing but a rehash of unfounded allegations" and that the church "has never been advised of any government investigation."

Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman in , said she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of the investigation.

On Monday, Scobee, Rinder and DeVocht told the Times that Los Angeles-based Special Agent Tricia Whitehill traveled to to interview them at the FBI's office on .

Scobee said Whitehill interviewed her for two days, Dec. 3 and 4, 2009. She said the agent asked about several topics, including instances of physical violence Scobee witnessed and punishments like the Rehabilitation Project Force or "RPF," a labor detail in which Sea Org members who transgress can work their way back into the church's good graces.

Scobee described RPFs as camps where staffers can languish for years, separated from friends, spouses and other family and given low quality food and living quarters.

She said she first came in contact with the FBI after she sent the agency copies of affidavits and other documents the church had given the Times and ABC News Nightline in 2009. The church offered the materials as proof Miscavige never hit anyone. But the documents — including sworn statements by current Scientology executives — acknowledged that violence occurred within the church's top management.

"They are admitting under penalty of perjury that it's happening with wild abandon," Scobee said. "None of them are calling the police. It needs intervention because they somehow think it's okay."

Shortly after Scobee sent the documents to the FBI, the agency called her, said it had an ongoing investigation into Scientology and arranged to meet with her, she said.

While in the Clearwater FBI office for her interview, Scobee said, Whitehill cautioned her not to speak with other employees in the office. She said Whitehill indicated the office might be compromised when it came to Scientology.

She said Whitehill also interviewed her husband, Mat Pesch, a longtime church staffer in who defected with her in 2005.

Scobee said she gave the FBI a long list of contact information for people who had left the international base and was impressed that the agency had already interviewed some of them.

Asked why she decided to talk about the investigation now, despite the FBI's request that she remain quiet, Scobee said: "I didn't hear anything for a year and I got fed up. They're either going to do something or they're not."

Rinder, the former church spokesman, said he met with Whitehill in for five hours. He detailed restrictions placed in 2006 on about 75 church managers who, Rinder said, were prevented from leaving their office complex, a pair of conjoined double-wide trailers that the managers gave the derisive nickname "the Hole.''

For months, Rinder and his colleagues slept on the floor, working well into the night, getting to leave only to shower once a day, Rinder said.

He said Whitehill's questions focused on work practices that can constitute human trafficking under the law. He said he related that Sea Org members assigned to the international base did not have easy access to telephones, that their passports were confiscated and that they were not free to leave the base, which is guarded and bordered by a chain-link fence topped with razor wire.

Rinder said the agent asked whether he believed staffers had been coerced into thinking they would be harmed if they tried to leave. His answer: "Yeah, of course.''

Rinder headed the church's Office of Special Affairs for two decades before running away in March 2007 while on assignment in . He lived in , working as a car salesman, before moving to Pinellas in late 2009. He now does consulting work and public relations.

Toward the end of 2010, he said he had the sense the FBI's investigation had lost momentum or, perhaps, had been shelved. But he added that Whitehill told him more than once, "Oh, we're still going.''

DeVocht is one of the few church managers to successfully flee the international base. Fed up with what he described as humiliating and degrading treatment of himself and others, he jumped over the front gate in 2005 and walked the 6 miles to nearby , eventually making his way to , where his family lived before he joined the Sea Org at 14.

Now living in Oldsmar and selling furniture, DeVocht supervised church facilities in before being assigned to the base in the early 2000s. His interview with Whitehill ran about 90 minutes, he said. The agent posed specific, informed questions.

"Obviously, she had a ton of information,'' DeVocht said. "A lot of what I said confirmed what she had already heard.''

Like Rinder, he said he described conditions inside "the Hole'' as well as the wire-topped perimeter fence and patrolling guards. He said Whitehill asked: Were the barriers and guards to keep the staff in or to prevent outsiders from getting in?

"To keep them in,'' he said.

Jeff Hawkins, a former international base staffer who worked on major marketing campaigns, said Whitehill and another agent, Valerie Venegas, interviewed him early last year at the FBI's office in downtown "It was pretty much a full day," he said, remembering that he recounted episodes of physical violence by Miscavige and life in the RPF, among other topics. The agents sounded "very knowledgeable" about conditions in the church, Hawkins said.

Morehead, the former security chief, also met with the agents in . He said they asked about a drill he helped devise to retrieve staffers who had "blown" — left without permission. They also asked about female staffers who he said had been pressured to get abortions.

Under federal and state statutes, human trafficking doesn't necessarily involve people being held by physical force. Traffickers can use emotional buttons, intimidation and financial ties to control people.

The FBI's website says there are many signs of human trafficking, but some include:

• Physical, emotional and verbal abuse, or submissiveness.

• A person's food being controlled by someone else.

• A person not speaking on his or her own behalf.

• Lack of control over one's schedule, money, identification and travel documents.

• People living and working in the same place.

• A debt owed to an employer/crew leader, or a perceived inability to leave a job.

The church won a major victory against two human trafficking claims last August when a federal judge in threw out two lawsuits filed against the church by former Sea Org members Claire and Marc Headley, a married couple living in .

The Headleys, now in their mid 30s, had joined the Sea Org as teenagers. Both were assigned to the desert base, where they met and married, as is common among the hundreds of staffers working there. They escaped separately in early 2005 and were pursued by church security teams, but outmaneuvered them.

The Headleys filed separate suits in January, 2009, alleging they were victims of forced labor. Claire Headley's suit also alleged she had two abortions under pressure from the church, lest she lose her standing in the Sea Org, which discourages members from having children. The church denied pressuring her and said the abortions were Headley's decision.

In dismissing their suits, a judge ruled that the Headleys performed religious duties and that the Sea Org, as a religious order, falls within the "ministerial exception'' commonly granted to religious groups in employment cases. The exception prevents the court from digging into internal church workings to explore the Headleys' claims, the judge said.

Reached Monday, Claire Headley said she and her husband would not discuss whether they have spoken to FBI investigators.

Joe Childs can be reached at childs@sptimes.com, Thomas C. Tobin at tobin@sptimes.com.


[Last modified:
]

!
Copyright 2011 St. Petersburg Times

 

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#29 [url]

Mar 3 11 3:59 PM

I'm nearly obsessed with this story now. There is so much that I can't post here because it's in PDF's and I don't know how to attach them here. I have learned soooo much more about fucking Tom Cruise through the court documents and I truly despise him now. I hold him as responsible for much of what has gone on at that fucking Gold base. 

There are unbelievable pictures of the airplane hanger that people were forced to build for him and motorycles that they nickle plated and then painted cherry apple red and a limo that was completely rebuilt  - THE most plush luxe limo I've ever seen in my life. Those people made basically $1 per hour! Cruise is the biggest narcissistic asshole in Hollywood. Can't stand him now.

 Also the police report from one of the top guys escaping with a gang of  security compound men chasing him and then intimidating the cops in the town of Hemet is an amazing read. I can NOT believe that the Headley's lost their Labor Law suit against Scientology - I think the Judge was bought off. They are appealing. They have already bought off a state senator - Jeff Stone who of course Scientology sends huge amounts of cash for all of his campaigns for re-election. He actually CHANGED the law 3 yrs ago so that peaceful protesters on public property are NO longer allowed to stand with signs outside the compound in protest.

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#30 [url]

Mar 3 11 4:06 PM

Nancy? LOL  this is so much to read! LOL

-preesi


I know! Actually, before 6 months ago when I read your posts on it all I knew NOTHING about this cult except that it was a cult! I did not know anything. They actually have their own fucking language - there is a glossary online that I found so that I can understand all the documents I've now found.

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#31 [url]

Mar 3 11 5:26 PM

Scientology's ; State Senate Candidate; Jeff Stone





   


Jeff Stone displays the booklet given to him by Scientology representatives

Photo: BOS meeting video
In October of 2008, two protesters picketing the Scientology compound in were attacked by security guards on public property outside the fenced campus in Gilman Hot Springs. Word of this incident quickly spread amongst the activist community, resulting in several large protests outside the fences of "Gold Base."
The Scientologists retaliated by directing sprinklers on the protesters, and blaring a 110 decibel tritone out of large speakers directed towards the highway. Sounds of 110 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss.
The water and blaring noise were clearly an attempt to discourage protesters from picketing along , which bisects the Scientologists' property. The conflict between protesters and Scientology attracted the interest of reporter Nathan Baca of KESQ Palm Springs.

The station wound up producing a series of videos about Scientology, the protesters, and the influence Scientology enjoys in . A news team from KESQ attended one protest, which launched several months of research for this special report.
When the sprinklers and sound failed to stem the tide of protesters and media attention, the Scientologists turned to of Supervisors chairman Jeff Stone.

On , Jeff Stone introduced a booklet given him by an unnamed source. The booklet labeled anonymous protesters as "terrorists," and contained many examples of hate speech gleaned from anonymous posters on the internet.

Mr. Stone refused to say who provided him with this scurrilous booklet. However, in an interview with Scientology representative Tommy Davis, reporter Nathan Baca succeeded in getting to the truth. The booklet was published by the Scientology organization.

The problem is, many people post anonymously on the internet, and are not necessarily associated with the anonymous collective that protests Scientology, sometimes referred to as Project Chanology.

 
Stone stubbornly continues to insist that anonymous are terrorists and a threat to his special constituents whose victims are held behind security spikes. Not surprisingly, Scientologists have been donating to his state senate campaign fund.
 

One new site, ex-Scientology Kids, contains the first hand stories of children raised within the cult.  Many of their stories are disturbing and upsetting, but they are important for just that reason.
Mr. Stone has been made aware of these stories, many of which happened at Gold Base, yet still, he chooses to do nothing.
His sister Lori parrots his position. In an email to this writer, who contacted her to correct her position, she wrote,
"To summarize, the "hatemonger" comment was intended for the group calling itself "anonymous." If you belong to that group then he did in fact mean to include you. He remains pro-life, pro-religious freedom, and wants to ensure one's right to protest that does not endanger the lives of those being protested against at their personal residence. I hope this clarifies the supervisor's position in this matter. Thank you for your correspondence."
 

Child labor, slave labor, coerced abortions, beatings, maltreatment, prisoners held behind razor sharp blades, and Stone, that "champion of human rights," refuses to take action.
Mr. Stone claims to be against abortion, and his sister volunteers for women's organizations. Yet, human rights violations, including forced abortions, are being reported in his district, and both of them turn a blind eye.

There are now over 1000 ex-Scientologists speaking out; in the media;  in blogs and in public they are relating similar stories of privation, abuse, and being under complete totalitarian control. Many of their stories occurred at Gold Base, yet Mr. Stone refuses to listen.

 

As one anonymous protester put it,
"A pamphlet full of pictures and anonymous postings from the internet given to him by Scientology is enough evidence for him to issue an emergency ordinance against targeted picketing. But the testimonials of hundreds ex-Scientologists are "propaganda"  and not enough evidence to do anything about it."
 

Mr. Stone having set the stage by accusing protesters of terrorism, then introduced Ordinance 884, a law that would limit picketers targeting residential areas.

 

Ironically, Mr. Stone participated in a residential picket involving a paroled sex offender in 2005.

 
It should be noted that when Mr. Stone introduced this ordinance, he claimed it was due to protests by the masked protesters who call themselves Anonymous. Several months later, his story changed, it was now necessary because a mythical Mormon bishop was targeted in and protests were allegedly held outside the house he occupied. There is no record of this incident.

 

Mr. Stone seems to have forgotten that the internet never forgets, and his changing story is available for all to see.
Initially, Ordinance 884 limited protests to 30 feet away from residences. One of Mr. Stone's lawyers, Sam Alhadeff, also works for the Scientology organization. He helped rework the final version, which changed the ordinance from 30 feet from buildings to 50 feet from the property line. If protesters were to abide by that ordinance, they would be picketing in the middle of , a busy highway that leads from to the I-10 freeway.
 
As soon as Ordinance 884 was approved, the Scientologists went into a frenzy of abuse of authority and using the Sheriff's Department as their personal army.
 
In February of 2009, Emmy Award winning videographer Mark Bunker, along with photographer Mark Lowell, another Scientology protester, were arrested for "tresspassing" outside the Scientology compound in . Scientology representative Catherine Fraser ordered sheriff deputies to arrest the two as they crossed the driveway leading into the base.

Both men were arrested while exercising their right to free speech on the public easement that the Scientologists view as their personal property. Video taken of the incident clearly shows the Scientologists had activated their sprinklers, limiting protesters to the area near the guard shack.
 
Both men were taken away and spent some hours in custody before being released. Charges were subsequently dropped. The entire incident was designed to quash their right to protest the reported abuses behind the steel fences surrounding the compound.
 
There have been a number of pickets subsequent to these arrests. Activists refuse to be intimidated by the Scientologists or Jeff Stone's unconstitutional ordinance.
The Scientology organization wields a fair amount of influence in ; thanks in part to politicians like Jeff Stone.
Jeff Stone's campaign endorsements from the likes of former California Governor George Deukmejian, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox extoll his integrity, honesty, and "highest ethical standards."
Yet, he has a history of pandering to Scientology interests in his jurisdiction, adhering to baseless allegations about human rights activists and ignoring the horror stories of people who have escaped the spike-studded fences of the Gold Base compound.

 

People like Marc Headley, who was run off the road while escaping the base on a motorcycle.                People like Laura DeCrescenzo, who joined the Sea Org at age 12, was coerced into an abortion as a teenager, and swallowed bleach to escape her bondage.
People like Jeff Hawkins, who also spent years working for Scientology. His blog is a gripping account of life behind the security spikes.

Unlike Jeff Stone, the media are beginning to take note of ex-member accounts of their suffering in . From the St. Petersburg Times in to the New York Times; from Anderson Cooper's CNN special to Australian media, the victims of Scientology are finding a voice.
This is what Jeff Stone ignores. He has turned his back on the powerless, voiceless victims of Scientology.
Thanks in part to his inaction and heavy influence in , the Scientology organization is still freely perpetrating these abuses against human rights and free speech.
Sending Jeff Stone to would increase this cult's influence within the state of at the highest level.
Scientology has been banned in , is considered a threat to democracy in , the target of an impending investigation in , being sued by ex-members in the , and convicted of fraud and medical malfeasance in .

Recently, a long-time Scientologist, Lucy Cole, sent out a mass emailing endorsing Jeff Stone for senator.

The Scientology organization was the perpetrator of the largest domestic espionage case in American history.
Jeff Stone; the Scientology candidate. That endorsement alone should raise a red flag among voters.

Slideshow: Protesting Scientology Abuses in

Continue reading on Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/religion-politics-in-san-diego/scientology-s-chosen-state-senate-candidate-jeff-stone?cid=parsely#parsely#ixzz1FWlBYuUU


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#40 [url]

Mar 3 11 7:02 PM

Nancy look at Gold Base on BirdsEye view on Bing Maps. Also you NEED to read the Radar Magazine article

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