Scientology Pandemonium: Commenters of the Week!
Things have been pretty loud and raucous around the underground bunker this week, what with news about Scientology coming in from multiple continents at all hours of the day. It's been mayhem. Even the cats are hissing at each other.
The Squirrel Busters got hung out to dry this week
The pandemonium started on late Saturday night with another excellent article from Corpus Christ Caller-Times reporter Mark Collette. As we described it the next morning, Collette interviewed a man who had been hired briefly by the "Squirrel Busters," a group of Scientologists besieging the south Texas home of former church executive Marty Rathbun. The man, Bert Leahy, was disgusted by the work he was asked to do: make Rathbun's life "a living hell" while pretending to shoot a documentary of him. Rathbun then provided another killer detail: that the man who had hired Leahy and is apparently running the Squirrel Busters operation is none other than Dave Lubow, a private investigator who has long worked for the church of Scientology. In other words, the Squirrel Busters were busted.
For even more detail on what it was like to work as a Squirrel Buster, watch all four of Marty Rathbun's interviews with Bert Leahy at his blog, "Moving On Up a Little Higher."
On Monday, we printed an open letter from (possible) Scientologist Mark Miglio. For me, it was definitely a highlight of a notable week.
On Tuesday, we resumed our countdown of Top 25 People Crippling Scientology with #24, David Touretzky and other academics, such as Stephen Kent and Hugh Urban.
On Wednesday, we noted that Scientology's Volunteer Ministers were showing up at scenes of UK riots. We also pointed out that Youth for Human Rights, a church front group, plans to overrun a Major League Soccer game in Los Angeles on August 27. We're still following up on that one.
On Thursday, we revealed #23 in our countdown, Ken Dandar and other attorneys, such as Dan Leipold, Ford Greene, Graham Berry, and Scott Pilutik.
Yesterday, the news from the UK riots got even more perverse, as Scientology cynically tried to capitalize on the disaster by, well, capitalizing. As in, begging cash from church members to buy buildings.
And this morning, we unveiled #22 in our countdown, Jamie DeWolf and other L. Ron Hubbard family members. Fun stuff!
Now, on to the awards...
First, we have to give a special commendation to "Scientia" for alerting us to the breaking news that the "Dave Statter" in the Caller-Times article -- the man operating a hotel "war room" who had hired videographer Bert Leahy -- was actually Scientology PI David Lubow:
Dave Statter is Dave Lebow, a Church PI who reports to OSA*. This is an important point for media as it is yet more evidence to show how the CoS directly manages and funds these activities.
We jumped on that tip, which Marty Rathbun confirmed, making for a slam dunk follow up to Collette's story. Now there was no question that the Squirrel Busters -- who claimed to be independently working on their own -- were being funded, recruited, and coordinated by church operatives.
"Scientia," we salute you. Tips like that really make our day.
After we revealed that the academics were taking #24 on our countdown, we liked this response from Patty Moher:
At one point Dave Touretzky was Scientology's number one SP on the planet. But Scn was hopelessly impotent on doing anything about him because Dave is smarter than them with both sides of his brain tied behind his back. Over the past 11 years I have read, listened and talked to Dave and I would have to say that he was one of the most influential people in helping me understand the cult and getting out of the mindset. He is a truly a mensch and a little known fact is that is a volunteer pilot and spends his own money to transport organs or patients for local hospitals. I would have thought him to be higher on the 25 list.
After we linked to a UK website posting observations of yellow-jacketed Volunteer Ministers proselytizing to the riot-shaken locals, we got this kick in the ass from "Live from UK", who responded to another reader doubting our journalism:
If you are looking for journalism you are in the wrong place.
After we revealed that #23 on our countdown were attorneys who litigate against the church, "Anon" nominated an additional winner:
Although the case was some time ago, I would like to acknowledge Casey Hill's contribution to the Scientology legal saga. Mr. Hill was a Canadian Crown attorney libeled by the 'church' and its lawyers. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court and was in part a test of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The 1984 judgment: "The jury award that was upheld in this appeal was the largest libel award in Canadian history. Barrister Manning and the Church of Scientology were found jointly liable for general damages of $300,000 CAD. Scientology alone was liable for aggravated damages of $500,000 CAD and punitive damages of $800,000 CAD, making Scientology's total liability $1,600,000 CAD."
Thanks for that, "Anon." We were blissfully ignorant of that significant case to our north.
And finally, "t1kk" -- Scott Pilutik -- really doesn't need any more encouragement after making our countdown this week, but had to give him props for this reaction to yesterday's mailer from the Birmingham church that only Scientologists know how to fix England's problem:
If L Ron Hubbard had written that baseball should only ever be played with tennis racquets ten feet above ground, well-meaning cult members in yellow t-shirts would be scheming to sneak RTC-licensed collapsible stilts past security at Yankee Stadium, comfortable in the certainty that they were the only ones who truly understood baseball.
I am rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord
See all of our recent Scientology coverage at the Voice
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard's organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga -- Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story -- How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection -- A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Robert Cipriano Case -- A Hellacious Example of Fair Game
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum -- The 'Crash' Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape -- 'Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle'
The Aaron Saxton Accusation -- Australia turns up the heat on Scientology
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation -- Scientology's former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross -- Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
A Church Myth Debunked -- Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back -- Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack -- The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
A Scientologist Excommunicated -- The Michael Fairman SP Declaration
The Richard Leiby Operation -- Investigating a reporter's divorce to shut him up
The Hugh Urban Investigation -- An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology's past
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh -- A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link
Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology -- A masterful telling of Scientology's history
The Western Spy Network Revealed? -- Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige
Scientology's Enemies List -- Are You On It?
Inside Inside Scientology -- An interview with author Janet Reitman
Scientology and the Nation of Islam -- Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman!
Scientologists -- How Many of Them Are There, Anyway?
Roger Weller's Wild Ride -- Scientology When it was Hip
The Marc Headley Infiltration -- A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed
Placido Domingo Jr: Scientology's Retaliation is "Scary and Pathetic"
An Interview with Nancy Many, Former Scientology Spy
The Paulien Lombard Confession -- A Scientology Spy Comes Clean
The Deputy Benjamin Ring Hard Sell -- Scientology wants your 401K
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology -- the whole series!
The Squirrel Busters Busted -- Unmasking the Scientology PI in Charge