Paulette Cooper, Scientology's Original and Worst Nightmare: A Thanksgiving Tribute by the Village Voice

I couldn't think of a better way to give thanks this year than to pay homage to the woman who was there first, paid the highest price, and remains a mentor, an inspiration, and a total class act.

In gratitude to our many loyal Scientology watchers who have made this year so special, here at the Voice we are excited to present a Thanksgiving tribute to Scientology's first and worst nightmare, the one, the only, Paulette Cooper.

40 years ago, Paulette published her stunning expose of the church, The Scandal of Scientology, and we also didn't want that anniversary to go unmarked. So over the last several weeks, I've been in touch with Paulette, talking to her about her book, about its famous aftermath, and learning about someone who has been encouraging me over my entire career. Here then is the Paulette that I've gotten to know.

Thumbnail image for ScandalCover.jpg
Forty years after its publication, a physical copy of The Scandal of Scientology isn't easy to find. You'll pay about 90 bucks for one at eBay. Fortunately, you can still read it for free online (she links to it from her own website), where I spent some time recently reminding myself just how good the book is.

Scandal may show its age here and there as it refers to controversies that were long ago lost in the mists of time, but Cooper is describing for the most part a fundamentalist organization that fiercely resists change. The Scientology she's writing about in 1971 is completely consistent with the church today, and that's the reason most of her descriptions feel so fresh and accurate.

Take almost any chapter as an example. Here, from Chapter 12, "The World of Scientology":

L. Ron Hubbard, or "Ron," is the unquestionable leader of this world and some of his Orgs are said to have an office for him just in case he should drop by. Although he never does, his presence is felt, seen and heard nonetheless. In one room, Scientologists may be listening to tapes of him speaking on Scientology, in the next room others may be doing their homework (which often consists of reading one of his books and sometimes writing a synopsis on it), and elsewhere, newcomers may be watching a movie about him. Huge posters of his face hang from the walls, statues of him rise from the floor, and photographs abound, sometimes of Hubbard in a nautical outfit with one of his ships as a background.

Hubbard may have left his body for higher planes of existence in 1986, but that description of what an org is like, with its obsession for Ron and his works, is as true today as it was four decades ago.

I told Paulette that I was particularly stunned by the depth of her research on Hubbard's background, his family, and his tall tales. (She thoroughly debunked his college claims, for example, showing that he had done poorly and left George Washington University without a degree.)

Today, we are so spoiled by the Internet and all that it provides reporters. I told her it must have been a monumental amount of work to track down all that information in the age of dial telephones and paper databases.

But she let me in on a secret: she didn't hesitate to play a little fast and loose.

"Do you know what pretext calling is? In those days, it was the height of investigative journalism," she told me with a laugh. (Another thing you learn about Paulette -- she has a wonderful, and wonderfully wicked, sense of humor.)

"I remembered that Hubbard had written that his father was a 'commander H. L. Hubbard,' so I looked up the phone book in Tilden, Nebraska, where Hubbard was born," she told me. Sure enough, there was a Harry Hubbard listed.

"I called him up and told him I was Paula Hubbard and I wondered if we were relatives."

On that pretext, she got the old man talking. "That's how I was able to get the names of Hubbard's relatives. The locations of weddings, the places where I could get birth certificates," she says.

"Harry Hubbard," she laughs again. "He was hardly a 'commander.' But he was delighted to talk to me. He went on and on."

Very clever. But then Paulette is not one to be underestimated. She was born in 1942 in a Nazi detention camp, shortly before her parents were killed at Auschwitz. She was subsequently raised in Belgian orphanages before being adopted by an American couple named Cooper, who brought her to the U.S. at 6.

Paulette as a young, New York author, before the trouble started
By 1968, she was 26 years old, an experienced freelance reporter in New York City, and was looking for a new project, something that would take some guts.

"I was working as a copywriter in BBDO, like Peggy in Mad Men -- you know she's a Scientologist, right?" she asks, referring to the actress who plays Peggy, Elisabeth Moss. "My boyfriend became a Scientologist. He thought he was Jesus Christ. I went to our boss, who had also got into Scientology, and I told him what my boyfriend had said about being Jesus. 'Maybe he really is,' my boss answered."

With that kind of introduction, Paulette says her interest in Scientology was piqued. "I got curious about it. I wanted a good investigative subject. Before that I had stowed away on the Leonardo da Vinci for a week. So I was looking for a splashy story to do again."

So she went for a weekend of classes at the local org, which in those days was in the Hotel Martinique, at 32nd Street and Broadway. (Today, the org is on 46th Street, and the Hotel Martinique is a Radisson.)

"I wasn't feeling negative about Scientology until I went there and spent the weekend. At that point I was tremendously turned off," she says. As she writes in the book, during a bull-baiting session, her handlers began to scream at her that she was really a writer trying to infiltrate the church. She had to remain composed, and deny it. But she tells me she was pretty sure they weren't just testing her, that they already knew she was a writer.

The result of her research was a lengthy December, 1969, article in Queen, a British magazine: "The Tragi-Farce of Scientology." She followed that in 1971 with the book. But even before it was published, she knew that Scientology was going to fight back, and in a serious way.

"I...felt that they were a Nazi-like organization, and kept thinking that if more people in Germany had spoken out in the '30's, my parents and millions of others would have lived. But despite this outward show of courage, I was already becoming afraid and anxious in 1970 and 1971 since there was already some harassment," she wrote later in a "harassment diary" of what she went through at the hands of Scientology.

Over the next dozen years, she would face 19 separate lawsuits by Scientology. But Paulette's harassment by the church was not restricted to lawsuits, or to intimidating and obscene letters, or to harassing phone calls. She is remembered today for enduring years of the most intense, most underhanded and complex covert targeting by an organization that has become legendary for its retaliation techniques.

And at the center of that campaign against her, there's still an intriguing mystery, all these years later: a fingerprint that had Paulette facing 15 years in prison.

At the end of 1972, Paulette first heard from FBI agents that someone had sent two letters to the Scientology org in New York -- the one at the Hotel Martinique -- threatening to blow it up. The agents told her James Meisler, head of PR at the org, had suspected Paulette of sending them. She denied it, but agreed to be fingerprinted. Then, in February 1973, she was called to testify to a grand jury. She writes in her diary that she actually looked forward to it, thinking that she would be treated as an expert witness on Scientology and would be able to talk about the strange letters she had received and other forms of harassment. Instead, she found that she was the target of the grand jury's investigation -- her fingerprint had been found on the second of the two bomb threat letters.

After denying that she had written either of the letters, she was told by John D. Gordon III of the US Attorney's office, who was prosecuting the case, that he believed she was lying. He told her to expect that she'd be indicted for perjury as well as mailing the bomb threats.

On May 9, 1973, she was indicted. Ten days later, she was arrested and arraigned. And her nightmare would continue for years as she tried to prove that she had been framed. What she most feared was a trial, which would have made her case public. Imagine what the New York Post would have written, she told me.

"I was a young travel writer living in Manhattan," she says, pointing out that in 1973, that wasn't the most wholesome image in an era with very different attitudes about independent working women. What made it worse was that she was accused of trying to blow up a church -- and one that few people really knew anything about. If the Post had got wind of that scenario, she would have been ruined, she says. (I can easily see it -- "Bomb Beauty Wanted to Blow Up Holy Hotel," for example.)

But on October 31, 1973, the day that her trial was supposed to begin, the government instead postponed it for a year. She was told to see a psychiatrist, try to deal with her problems, and if no further bomb threats showed up in that year, perhaps the whole thing would go away.

"I was terrified that whole year, worried that Scientology would pull something else out about me," she says.

What had changed the government's mind? I managed to track down the former secretary to John Gordon who, after leaving the prosecutor's office, worked for many years for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a large, prestigious law firm, until his retirement. She forwarded my request to speak with him about Paulette's case, but he didn't get in touch with me.

Paulette believes that by October 1973, the case against her was already starting to fall apart because of Nibs.

"Nibs" -- L. Ron Hubbard, Jr., later Ron DeWolf
L. Ron Hubbard Jr. -- the familly called him "Nibs," and he later changed his name to Ron DeWolf -- was a tortured soul who had spent little time in Scientology, but who alternately spent time trying to expose the lies of his father and other times trying to get back in his father's good graces.

Paulette spent considerable time with him, helping him write material about his father in the summer of 1972. But she didn't get along well with him, and came to consider him a "total phony." And she believes it was something Nibs showed a man named Roy Wallis that finally began to turn things around for her with prosecutors.

Wallis, a sociologist, interviewed both Paulette and Nibs for his own book, The Road to Total Freedom, which would come out in 1976. At one point, Nibs showed Wallis letters which suggested that he had offered to make his father's publicity nightmares go away with a single stroke -- that is, by having Paulette put in prison. The letters suggested that Nibs was working with the church to frame Paulette, and Wallis took copies of the letters to prosecutors. Also, Paulette took a "truth serum" test that indicated she had been telling the truth. Because of that test and the Nibs letters, she says, the government's desire to put her away seemed to lessen.

Paulette, showing the results of her harassment
Still, she remained under a cloud until 1977, and her health suffered as she worried about her secret coming out in the open. That first summer, as she awaited trial, she says she got down to 83 pounds and became suicidal. As she writes in her diary, her cousin also experienced a bizarre attack that may have been intended for Paulette. Vile letters with personal information about Paulette's health, meanwhile, continued to arrive in her mail, and other letters suggesting that she was of questionable character would be sent to her neighbors.

One way she coped with it all was to get out of the country. She would take travel writing assignments to far away places in part to keep away from the harassment. And it was while returning from one of those trips, in July, 1977, while on an airplane heading back from Africa, that she read in the International Herald Tribune a story that utterly stunned her: the FBI had raided the Church of Scientology's offices in Washington DC and Los Angeles, finding evidence of what is to this day the largest infiltration of government offices in US history. The FBI also found evidence of a bizarre covert operation, the framing of a writer named Paulette Cooper.

"From first bomb threat to exoneration was five years. But then I had to wait another four years to get copies of the documents," she tells me. "I got my revenge when the documents were finally made public. I photocopied every document that listed a name they had done dirty tricks on." She sent copies of the documents out to news organizations, and eventually stories were done in Readers Digest and on 60 Minutes. "I was able to get them the worst publicity they ever got," she says.

The documents showed the mania that Scientology's covert operations wing, the Guardian's Office, had for her, and the lengths the GO was willing to go to either make her go insane, get her imprisoned, or encourage her to kill herself. Called "Operation Freakout," the program against Paulette included such plans as trying the bomb threat caper again, this time obtaining her fingerprints on stationery and mailing threats to an Arab consulate. In another plan, a woman would impersonate Cooper and make threats against President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

None of that was carried out. But what frustrated Paulette was that the documents didn't spell out who had obtained her fingerprint in the earlier scheme -- Operation Dynamite -- that had resulted in her 1973 indictment.

Since then, she has developed three very different theories about it. One the FBI favored, and it involved Scientologists posing as friends to Paulette in order to get into her apartment to lift her stationery.

But Paulette also came to suspect Nibs. He had spent a lot of time with her in the summer of 1972 as they worked together on a piece of writing. He could have taken a piece of her stationery then. Also, there was the letter he had written, offering to "entrap" her to get back in the good graces of his father. And there was another odd detail: he knew something about her health, a small detail, that showed up on one of the threat letters she received that made her think he was involved.

And then there was a completely different scenario Paulette considered, involving a couple named Bernard and Barbara Greene, who were themselves in litigation against Scientology. An anonymous letter to Paulette's parents alleged that the Greenes were really behind her harassment. To her astonishment, Paulette was told by a document expert that the anonymous letter, the original bomb threat letter, and a letter Paulette had received from the Greenes had all been typed on the same machine.

I asked Paulette how, all these years later, she could give credit to three such completely, and mutually exclusive, theories of how she was framed. But she told me that these days, she doesn't give so much credence to the latter two. Nibs may have been involved, at least in giving information about her, and he may also have actually typed up the bomb threat letters, but he probably didn't obtain her stationery or her fingerprint. The Greenes, meanwhile, were probably a dead end. She now doubts that the document expert was correct about their typewriter.

No, she's pretty sure, today, she knows how her fingerprint was lifted. And it involved a clipboard, a petition, and a woman who wouldn't take off her gloves.

Paulette remembers that it was December 6, 1972, a few days before the bomb threat letters began showing up at the Scientology org.

"A mysterious girl named Margie Shepherd came by with a petition for me to sign supporting the United Farm Workers. I gave her a small check. She stayed about a half hour," Paulette remembers in her diary. She also remembers thinking it odd that the woman never removed her gloves during her visit.

She believes today that "Margie" was working for Scientology, and that taped to the bottom side of her petition's clipboard was a piece of stationery. When Paulette reached for the clipboard, her finger would have been in the exact position and orientation of the single fingerprint that was later found on the stationery that was used for the second bomb threat letter. Margie didn't dare take off her own gloves, of course, so that she wouldn't add her own prints to the piece of blank stationery.

Getting her fingerprint was only the beginning of the operation, Paulette believes. Another Scientologist, this one calling himself "Jerry Levin," was sent in to befriend Paulette as she began going through the ordeal of the bomb threats and the other harassing letters.

As her relationship with her boyfriend, Bob Straus, crumbled during all the harassment of 1973, Levin offered to move in with her, to share the rent in a platonic relationship. He even offered to serve as a character witness in her trial. "I cringe now when I think of the scenario if that had happened," she wrote in her diary.

She spent months trusting him, but then spotted his name in a list of Scientologists. Pointing out that his name was a common one, he denied any connection with the church. But soon after that confrontation, he vanished. The FBI concluded that Levin was not only working for the church, but that he was running the operation that obtained her fingerprint and mailed the bomb threats.

"The reason I didn't suspect Jerry was that most of their spies were very bad, and very obvious. But Jerry was good," she tells me.

Today, she believes that Levin was not just keeping an eye on her for the church, but that he continually asked her to come up to the rooftop pool of her apartment building, with its narrow ledge, hoping to create an "accident" that might push her over. As outlandish as that sounds, she points out that ex-Scientologist Margery Wakefield, in an affidavit, swore that she had heard plans for the murder of Paulette Cooper while she was still in the church. Paulette never went to the ledge with him; she was such a nervous wreck already, she didn't want to go near it.

One of the hardest things she went through, she says today, was just getting people to believe that all of the harassment was going on. "If you tell people you're being followed, they think you're paranoid," she says. The experience left her angry and depressed. "I was really very, very bitter.

"People didn't understand the nefarious nature of Scientology," she says. "They didn't understand that they were fanatics who were going to take over the world, and anyone in their way, they could do anything to stop them."

Even after her exoneration by the FBI, she was still involved in lawsuits with Scientology until an ultimate settlement in 1985 (the terms of which she can't discuss). Just to give me a sense of what the lawsuits were like, she shared with me an interesting anecdote.

When her book came out, a friend who published a newspaper in New Jersey told her he wanted to help her out with a review, but he didn't have time to write it. So he asked her to write one herself under a pseudonym. "It was like the way friends write favorable reviews for people on Amazon," she says. She lived off Madison Avenue, so she came up with the name "Paula Madison" for the short item in her friend's newspaper.

"For years Scientology was trying to find out who was this Paula Madison who had written a positive review," she says with a scoffing laugh. "In the lawsuits, they gave me 20,000 interrogatory questions to answer, and there were 49 days of depositions. And they would always ask me for any correspondence with Paula Madison."

I got the distinct impression that she doesn't miss her days battling in court with the church.

Paulette never wrote about Scientology again. But she never lost interest in it, either.

Raiding in Denmark
In 1995, I began writing about Scientology, and in 1999 and 2000 I was writing quite a lot about it in Los Angeles. At some point, I started receiving e-mails from someone who praised my work and told me to keep at it. I was stunned when I realized it was that Paulette Cooper. And I know that I'm not the only writer she has befriended and encouraged.

In May, Paulette surprised even herself when, on a vacation in Denmark, she spotted a Scientology "org" and decided to stop in.

"Have you heard of Scientology, they asked me. Yes, I have, which is why I'm not staying, I answered." She recounted the story for me with a laugh, and then sent a photo.

"When I die, I want my ashes sprinkled over the nearest org so I have the last word."

These days, Paulette lives in Palm Beach, Florida, and she writes about local subjects (her newest book is about bargain shopping in Fort Lauderdale). And she writes about cats and dogs. It's not as exciting as some subjects, she acknowledges.

"Hey, cats don't sue you, dogs don't harass you," she points out.

She continues to keep an eye on what's happening with Scientology, and reads new reporting about it. "I do read it. I love seeing any difficulties they get into. But I think that the Internet people are unrealistic. They'll e-mail me and say we'll wipe them off the planet for you. I think Scientology is going to be around. They may get down to 5,000 people left, but they won't go away."

The church's number one problem? Its leader, David Miscavige, she says. "He's reading all this stuff. He knows that this is counterproductive. And yet when he reads that, shouldn't he realize that he's doing something wrong, that people are leaving en masse? There's no introspection. But I love him, because I think he's doing more than anything to hurt them than anyone since me. So as far as I'm concerned, just let him keep going," she says.

"It could be his height. A lot of short men are very pugnacious," she adds, trying to explain Miscavige's unrelenting, aggressive program that seems to be pushing the church over a cliff. "Thanks to DM, they won't enter the area of semi-respectability that the Mormons have."

Well, if Scientology's reputation only gets worse with each year, Paulette's never dims. She remains an inspiration for the many journalists who have come after her. The research in her book is impeccable, the portrait it paints of Scientology is as accurate today as when it was published in 1971, and no one, to this day, has paid the kind of price she did for simply investigating and conveying the truth about a secretive and litigious cabal.

So, this Thanksgiving, I offer my personal thanks to Paulette Cooper for the trail she blazed.

I had wanted to append a special treat to the end of this tribute: I asked Mark Bunker, who recently interviewed Paulette for his upcoming documentary, Knowledge Report, to provide me with a short excerpt for this story. Bunker was happy to help me out, and put an excerpt on his YouTube channel for me to use. Alas, the eagle-eyed researchers over at spotted the excerpt, and made it public several days go. Such is the nature of the Internet! Well, if the surprise has been spoiled, the excerpt itself is still a gem. And here it is...

The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#6: Anonymous
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#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

Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


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Wow, this woman is a survivor.  Keep these stories coming.  I love them!


I too would like to pay tribute to Paulette Cooper.  Trying to deal with a Scientology takeover of your life was extremely difficult in the days before the internet.  It is hard to describe the mixture of bullying and flat out refusal to listen to anything but good about an organization that clearly was NOT good, but it was effective and it was difficult to stand up to their outlandish claims.  Her book was a godsend.  I am so sorry that she had to pay so dearly to write and publish it, but I am grateful beyond measure that she persisted.  


Bless this woman and her courage.

Dave Touretzky
Dave Touretzky

Here is the back story on how Paulette's book ended up hosted on a server at Cargnegie Mellon University. It was back in 1995 when I first became aware of Scientology due to their attacks on the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. Someone had typed in all of Paulette's book and it was circulating among critics as a plain text file. Another CMUer, Dean Benjamin, decided to turn this into a web book. Back in 1995, the World Wide Web was very new, and people were just beginning to experiment with HTML publishing. Dean got hold of a hardcopy version and converted the entire book to HTML by hand, adding footnotes at the bottom of each chapter that linked back to the text where the footnote appeared and also linked forward to the bibliography entries; the bibliography appeared at the end, as in the printed book. It's an interesting linking convention for faithfully reproducing a printed book as a web document. As far as I know, it was his own invention. Later we attended a Cult Awareness Conference in New Jersey and, with a couple of other critics, had the honor of having lunch with Paulette in Manhattan where she was living at the time. Still later Dean added additional biographical material about Paulette to the web version of the book, and changed to a black background color scheme to match the cover of the paperback.

Dean also designed a novel HTML structure for Margery Wakefield's book The Road to Xenu, again making clever uses of hyperlinks, but for this one, which had no footnotes, he made key phrases from the text into links from the table of contents. It's really quite clever. You can see it at

Dean went on to collect online versions of most of the critical books about Scientology, creating what he called his "Secret Library of Scientology". Because I was a faculty member in the Computer Science Department I had essentially unlimited web hosting resources and was protected from Scientology attacks, so I provided the hosting space for his project, and after Dean left CMU, I took over the maintenance.

David J Mudkips
David J Mudkips

I'm willing to forego the Staturday roundup if this is what's in its place.

Bravo, Paulette, you are an inspiration to us all.

Synthia Elizabeth Fagen
Synthia Elizabeth Fagen

What a great and fitting tribute a to true hero in the crazy world of Scientology. Thank you Paulette. Anyone who thinks her accurate reporting is exaggerated or untruthful is sadly still a victim of the Scientology mind control vice grip.


Lying and proud of it. That's Paulette Cooper for you. 

Tye Solaris
Tye Solaris

This Tribute is the BEST article you have posted Tony. Thank You.

I wish I had known about Paulette Cooper some twenty odd years ago.

What she wrote was 'canonical' in itself... her instincts, perceptions and conclusionswere 'spot-on'.

I perceive what horrors & travesties that the Scion's perpetrated against her wereclearly attempted murder.... multiplied... over an extended period of time.

Why has the FBI & the DOJ not ended this madness!

More & more it seems to me that all that Hubbard "railed" about as the 'think & do'of 'suppresive'  people is EXACTLY what he himself was DOING and was about...

Don't think for moment .... that Hubbard did not know every detail of what was being doneto this woman who was exercising her Constitutional Right to Freedom of Speech.

I recently viewed the writer Gore Vidal making a comment on Hubbard...

"Yes, I met him once... He was a 'perfectly' fine fellow to speak with.... but He exuded 'Evil & Malice'......"

Heather Grace
Heather Grace

Paulette is an absolute inspiration to me.

Much love to you, Paulette. And respect.


For a while in the early 1970s, L. Ron Hubbard Jr. was attempting to be clever by playing both sides, but it was a display, bluster, to get on his father's good side, after having been Fair Gamed himself for years. Paulette theorized that Nibs typed the letters because one said, "EXPLODING volcano" instead of "ERUPTING volcano." (Volcanoes erupt, they don't explode). Supposedly Nibs' uneducated state brought him to the use of such sloppy language, however, Nibs, having left Scientology in 1959, was not aware that a new secret belief in Scientology - starting in 1967 - was that atomic bombs had been dropped in volcanoes 75 million years ago and detonated (See OT 3 story), and thus EXPLODED, thus the wording "EXPLODING volcanoes." The person who typed the letters was a Scientologist, and the orders to destroy Paulette Cooper had come directly from the "Flagship" on which Hubbard and his wife, Mary Sue, resided. I've seen some of the telexes.

Plus the "tech" for how to do a covert operation where someone was set up (framed) came directly from L. Ron Hubbard Sr.'s instructions in his confidential "tech."

Going off into speculation about Bernie Green or Nibs is unfortunate, although I'm sure that both Corporate Scientology and Independent Scientology are delighted to see that happen. The culprit behind this was L. Ron Hubbard, assisted by his wife, Mary Sue.

And it was tried again in 1976, when Hubbard was secretly residing in Washington, DC. Same Hubbard "tech" being applied. These documents were seized by the FBI in 1977, and can be examined.

Synthia Elizabeth Fagen
Synthia Elizabeth Fagen

Thank you Paulette. I apologize for not finding out sooner. You are one courageous lady.


Well! I will have you know Mr. Bigshot Tony Ortega that we in OSA Int still use dial telephones and paper databases.

Why just today after our half hour Thanksgiving Day lunch break I was in the confessional folders storage area looking for juicy blackmail information when the COB Emergency dial telephone rang.

I answered it pensively: "Sir?"




I was shocked and said, "Mine Fuehrer! Are you in trouble? Shall I declare a CODE RED immediately?"

COB said, "Noooooooo!"

I asked, "Then Sir, what is it? What has so upset you?"

He screamed into his dial telephone at the top of his lungs, "WHAT THE F*CK WAS PAULETTE COOPER DOING IN OUR ORG IN DENMARK?"


The book on ebay thing and her sly tactics just made me think about something I'd love to read you do Tony, old school journalism like Cooper did!

Has there ever been a list of companies, gov bodies and organizations who have capitulated/surrendered or been suspected of doing so to Scientology? I'd imagine some of the higher uppers that have left the church would know the list by heart. They were dragons who were slain/blackmailed/bought over the years, so I'm sure they were lauded as big knotches on someones belt.

Tony, if you ever get a slow week in the world of Scientology upsets I'd absolutely LOVE to read a list along the lines of "whatever happened to the guys they squeezed into submission?"

Even if it was a long list of "no comment/that was a long time ago and I'd rather not have them back stalking me/*click*"s it might be a great single piece or another epic 25. I'd love to see a list of the non-scientologist linchpins and how they feel now.

A whole world of judges, bureaucrats, publishers, TV execs and really minor people over the years have been coerced into helping Scientology to silence people, make things go away. Did they even KNOW they were? I bet a lot of people are out of the positions they were in or are now out of whatever shame/danger they were threatened with.


If it were not for Paulette Cooper we would not have the steady stream of critical books on Scientology from around 1973 to now. She made it possible to write books on Hubbard's pet monster, and she took the most abuse because she opened the door while re-affirming that yes, Dianetics and Scientology were the same thing. That she brought up his real background in the penultimate chapter of her book probably made the smear/lawsuit campaign worse.

Chuck Beatty
Chuck Beatty

I’m so sorry Paulette for what we did to you.

I’m an atheist ex Scientologist and I today tell people who call the 866-XSEAORG line, to get out of Scientology. 

Mary Sue Hubbard was a living embodiment  of one of L. Ron Hubbard’s most damaging church policy writings.   

In 1967, L. Ron Hubbard wrote the infamous church policy writing called , "The Responsibilities of Leaders", nicknamed  the "Simon Bolivar" policy.

Hubbard laid out  how Simon Bolivar and his lover and faithful companion Manuela supposedly "failed" in their lives. 

Hubbard gives lessons for how Scientology movement followers can improve on Simon Bolivar and Manuela’s lives!  

Those improvements were the core of the pernicious principles that the “Guardian’s Office” (1967-1982)  employed.

But those principles are still today employed by the Guardian’s Office replacement, called the Office of Special Affairs.  

I quote below, from the Hubbard most recent edition, in the "Basics" book collection, from the book entitled:  "Introduction to Scientology Ethics”, 2007 edition (proving this policy is still on the books, and a permanent evil the public should KNOW about  Scientology).

page 154  “…He [Bolivar] never  began to recognize a Suppressive and never considered anyone needed killing except on a battlefield.”

page 159  “…She [Manuela, faithful lover and companion], knew for years Santander had to be killed.  She said it or wrote it every few days.   Yet never did she promise some young officer a nice night or a handful of gold to do it in a day when dueling was in fashion.  “

pages 159-160  “…Her [Manuela’s] mistake was waiting to be asked--to be asked to come to him, to act.” “… never collected or forged or stole any document to bring down enemies, either through representations to Bolivar or a court circle of her own.   And in an area with that low an ethic, that’s fatal.”

page 160  “She had a great deal of money at her disposal.  In a land of for-sale Indians she never used a penny to buy a quick knife or even a solid piece of evidence.”

The worst problems in Scientology have always traced right back to Hubbard.

Paulette is right that the movement is going to go on.   Us who lived the staff ranks intimately know that it is Hubbard’s voluminous pernicious internal policy that blinds and overwhelms the better instincts of the staff who man the multi-echelons of the movement.  

The above is one of the worst still existing  publicly issued Hubbard church policies. 

The Scientology movement is so internally messed up, they cannot delete Hubbard’s worst church policies.

Hubbard wrote the script for Scientology movement members’ continued controversial and repulsive behavior.  

Chuck Beatty866-XSEAORG


A wonderful tribute, and a most fitting day for it, Tony. Thank you!

I'm delighted to find so many others here who had their curiosity aroused by reading Paulette's book and then learning about all the hideous criminal abuse that she endured and survived.

Thank you, Paulette. You are an inspiration to so many of us! We'll never forget you! <3!!!

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

Paulette's brutal struggle to survive and then triumph over the dirty deeds of Scientology, is remarkable and inspirational!

What is wonderful about this Thanksgiving article is the admiration shown to Paulette by Tony. From one journalist to another, Paulette has passed the "torch of truth" to a new generation.

The effect of Tony and Paulette's journalism is liberating. The reader somehow feels empowered, and the effect is spreading.

Tony, thank you for making a community for like-minded individuals. You are an extraordinary man with exceptional devotion and courage, unafraid to make enemies in the pursuit of truth. So please...don't stand to close to any ledges. ;-)



The account of Paulette Cooper *should* have kept alarm bells ringing until absolute justice was applied to $cientology. Even to this day decades later, people are speaking of the unimaginable.

So much for the Guardians Office being "disbanded"What happened to Paulette is a sound a clear warning of the danger of $cientology.

Paulette knows she dodged R-45.

There are still members of the convicted 11 back  in the church.

The "indie" debate is basically moot, IMO

Pick a year, any year and you'll find people being "handled" by this so-called religion scientology. I shudder to think what they have hidden over the decades. Court records are replete with the worst of crimes.

Dean Fox
Dean Fox

I know Mark and Mike are distorting the past big time, that what you say it true, but I wounder if the independent scientologists will revert to church of scientology form or if they will create some kind of care bear scientology based on their ideological (delusional) view of what it's meant to be.

barbara graham
barbara graham

It was Paulette's story, along with that of Dennis Erlich, profiled on Investigative Reports on A&E that got me looking into Scientology as a train wreck worthy of slowing down to gawk at.

How did Tom Cruise put it? "Wild and wooley." Yeah, like that. With Guy Fawkes masks.

Jefferson Hawkins
Jefferson Hawkins

Paulette has been an inspiration for all those who have spoken out since. She was the trailblazer, and incurred the wrath of Scientology at a time when they could focus their considerable resources on one lone whistleblower. And she survived, demonstrating her amazing strength and intelligence. Now, there are literally thousands speaking out against Scientology abuses, thanks to this brave pioneer.


Truly an incredible and epic article!   To both Tony and Paulette.  Thanks so much for your awesome courage.  It takes some serious inner strength to stand up to this crazy cult.  Both of you have my utmost respect.


Human rights?     The way to happiness?     Perhaps Thanksgiving will let some criticle thinking  skills surface for some that are "in"   - thoughts of disconnected family just might make another reality more attractive.

Glad you are out there Tony.    Huge impact!


I would love to see how the Indies justify the actions of their beloved L Ron in this situation.  He was a con man and fraud who thought nothing about plotting to destroy and possibly kill a critic.  L Con's actions outweigh any of the lovely phrases and quotes they so often throw around.  Besides, he stole most of his ideas and philosophies.

Anyone that believes L Ron was a decent person deserves to be without their money.  They are a fool.

Old OT7
Old OT7

One of the first to expose the cult.  Her's was the book that I read when I started thinking of getting out.  Truly a hero in every sense of the word.  Paulette, we all owe a debt of gratitude for writing your book and enduring the onslaught of what the cult threw at you.  I believe someone came to your door one night, pull out a gun, pointed it at you and pulled the trigger.  The gun had jammed and the cult member ran away.  Need anyone say more?

I give thanks for Paulette Cooper on this Thanksgiving day.  As well as the rest of you posters.


I remember reading The Scandal of Scientology when I was a teenager; my sister worked in a bookstore and she gave it to me.  As a young woman who wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein when I grew up in an era where nice girls didn't do that, Paulette Cooper was -- and still is -- my idol.


God bless you Paulette.


The foundation for my interest in learning more about and protesting Scientology came from having studied the Holocaust. Pursing a PhD in that area was dangled before me but I declined. I have many other interests, and the subject matter went against my satirical yet happy nature.

Although the catalyst for protesting the cult, and reading more, was the Tom Cruise video, Paulette has been an inspiration for the years I've been doing it now, for her intelligence, fortitude, wit and sacrifice.

Nazi Germany was not dismantled by protest. It took a world war. That is why Scientology needs to be protested and exposed rigorously, before it establishes tentacles into government, education and society, no matter how limited. We do not need any Orwellian society of security checks, double-speak, extreme control, and disposing of people quietly, without sorrow. Although it is absurd to think it could ever get that far now, with the Internet, it is still chilling to read just how far it can get, from the recent series in the SP Times.

Paulette's book has probably saved dozens of lives, and hundreds, maybe thousands of people from getting involved in this cult. Thank you Paulette for inspiring us, and for encouraging fine journalists like Tony.

Nancy Many
Nancy Many

Paullette Cooper survived so much, so so much.  Thank you Tony for reminding us to give thanks for those who fought before.  I was working for the Guardian's Office in Boston when all this was going on.  Boston was given a couple of 'operations' to do regarding her.One was to watch her get off a train and go to her lawyers office.  Now how did they know the day before exactly what she was going to be wearing?  And why follow her to someplace they already knew she was going?  There are parts of this that left me (years ago) with the knowledge that Paulette Cooper was a personal vendetta by LRH himself. LRH had a strong sense of revenge, and he poured it onto Paulette (who is very petite btw)

I also know of another person involved, his name was JW - Jerome Wilson, he was sent to NY to befriend Robert Kaufman (another writer and friend of Paulette's).  He rented an apartment in the same building as Robert.  He was a drummer, and since Robert was a musician, this was thought to be a perfect connection.  JW was a short, good looking, black man.  He really was a drummer.  Have no idea where he is now, but he most certainly would know a tremendous amount more about the operations against Paulette.

Wu Kapauw
Wu Kapauw

DAUNTLESS. DEFIANT. RESOLUTE. Descriptors that more properly belong to Ms. Cooper than her craven Scientology harassers, who would claim them for their fraudulent IAS campaigns. Paulette's story has inspired me since I first heard it, and tipped the balance between sitting on the sidelines and contributing to the rising voices that are publicizing the damning criminal record and policies of Hubbard's scam groups.

And Tony Ortega - the relentless and accelerating drumbeat of embarrassing Scientology leaks and articles continues! Kudos once again. Can't wait to see what's next. I thought 2010 would be the bottom of the barrel for the cult's fortunes, but 2011 has turned out to be even more lulzy. Who can say what 2012 will bring?

It's just win after win after win after win . . .

Kate Bornstein
Kate Bornstein

Thanks for this, Tony. And thank you Paulette, for making the first big crack in the wall of lies and secrets that was and still is Scientology. I'm pretty sure "Jerry Levin" was a guy named Mike McGee, a GO staffer who was later posted as Ass't Guardian New York. When I was on mission from Flag to set up the Flag Operations Liaison Office (FOLO) East US, he got drunk and hinted that he was the guy who'd pretended to be PC's friend. I understand Mike died some years back. Scary people.


Wonderful Thanksgiving Day article Tony, and Cooper is such a deserving subject of the tribute.

And what great parting commentary from PC this was: the 'church's' #1 problem is David Miscavige's attitude. Which maybe comes because he's SHORT. HAHAHAHA

I've often wondered if one of the greatest attractions to scientology for Tom Cruise is the fact that he doesn't feel short standing next to DM.


2:28 in on the video—"She's talking about suicide today, isn't that great for Scientology!"

Game over.


Spending a lifetime viciously attacking critics. That's a Scientologist for you.


I wonder who the 1 person is who likes Louanne.  I am going to have to experiment with whether this board allows you to like yourself. EDIT: Nope. Must be that Miglio or Marcotai has been demoted to the job of "liking Louanne" since they're not allowed to post anymore!


Paulette won.  Just drives ya nuts, doesn't it cultie?

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

Funny how times have changed.

Paulette Cooper is adored and respected by hundreds of thousands and Scientology is hated by more around the world.

Paulette Cooper was hunted like prey. And now Scientology is the one being hunted, by exposing your crimes against humanity.

It's called Karma!


Take a good look at her, "Louanne".

She is happy, and healthy. She looks fantastic.

There isn't ONE $cientologist who can boast the same years on this Earth who looks as great as she does. Not one.

That's the look of a healthy lady who chose not to take The Way To Crappiness.

That's a lady with strength and integrity, someone who knows bullshit when they see it and calls it out.

Unlike you, and unlike just about any $cientologist - Paulette is not a coward.

You can delude yourself that you are "saving mankind" or whatever the hell it is you think this whole thing is achieving apart from a way for David Miscavige to buy shiny new cars and motorbikes and private jets.

But Paulette Cooper is living proof that your cult has failed, that you have failed, and that these are the end days for L Ron Hubbards stupid little sect.

And it won't end there. In a hundred years from now, nobody will even remember $cientology.

It will be as relevant to mankind's history as the ladies knitting clubs of Pompeii.

Erased from history apart from a few crumbling hardbacks for the future generations to laugh at.

Ask yourself - was it all worth it? What you put this woman through, she's bounced back stronger.

Can't say the same about $cientology. Nobody is scared anymore to tell you what a bunch of freaks you are. And your stats are dropping further every week, your orgs are empty, not one OT power, not one "clear", I'll bet you cry yourself to sleep thinking of the life you could have had, Louanne.

I pity you.


Re-read the article, again, carefully. She did some pretensing, but that was standard operating procedure for any investigative reporter. Still is in most cases. Now compare that to the Church's response -- attempts to murder her, attempts to frame her for bomb threats, for assassination threats, etc. Her "crimes" are small potatoes compared to what your cult has done.


The infamous Louanne! That's the best you've got? I am sorely disappointed... But perhaps I need to read further into the comments. Please tell me you will live up to your rep... You know, crazy-ass moonbattery... Pwetty pweeze?


Clearly lying should only be done by a fully-hatted GO / OSA Intelligence Specialist who has done the TR-L training.


Purpose:  To train the student to give a false statement with good TR-1. To train the student to outflow false data effectively.

Position: Same as TR-1.

Commands: Part l "Tell me a lie". Command given by coach.  Part 2 interview type 2 WC by coach.

Training Stress: In Part 1 coach gives command, student originates a falsehood. Coach flunks for out TR 1 or TR O. In Part 2 coach asks questions of the student on his background or a subject. Student gives untrue data of a plausible sort that the student backs up with further explanatory data upon the coach further questions. The coach flunks for out TR O and TR 1, and for student fumbling on question answers. The student should be coached on a gradient until he/she can lie facily."Incidentally, are you hatted to lie?


"....Us who lived the staff ranks intimately know that it is Hubbard’s voluminous pernicious internal policy that blinds and overwhelms the better instincts of the staff who man the multi-echelons of the movement."

A Scientologist has given over his mind and life to the solutions that Hubbard tells him to apply. The most catastrophic thing he does to himself, and to others around him, is to constantly "think with" Scientology and to ask himself "How does L Ron Hubbard say I should handle this problem?"

Once you've given yourself over to that operating basis, your own moral judgement has been destroyed. This is the fate of all ideologues, not just Scientologists. But when you have adopted an ideology as pernicious as Scientology, and made it the central thinking machine for your life, you are truly screwed.

And so is everyone else around you.

Paulette Cooper recognized that and decided to do something about it. She paid a heavy price for it, but her strength and her courage won out. She proved that we can fight totalitarian ideologies, and we can keep their agents holed up in their little tinfoil-lined cells where they belong.

Thanks, Paulette. I too owe you a huge debt.



Agreed completely.   Thank you for the great story, Tony and much, much respect to Paulette.


Hear, hear!  The Scientology stories are the first search I do every morning.  When the Voice comes up, I read those posts first.  Great series, Tony.  Keep it up!  


The identity of "Jerry Levin" must be made public, preferably with photographs.

Any ex-scientologists out there know his real name?

Leave it here anonymously..


Well, I've always thought that Louanne is likely Miscavige himself, sitting alone, in his underwear, at his desk on the Freewinds, typing away furiously...

Joe Hone
Joe Hone

I agree. Paulette, you look fabulous and incredibly vigorous, and when one considers all you went through it is a testament to your mental strength that you are still here and still willing to share your experience of the evils of COS. Perhaps our accolades here on the blog are pitiful in comparison, but you have our highest respect and admiration. 

Kate Bornstein
Kate Bornstein

I'm pretty sure it was a guy named Mike McGee, who was later posted as the Assistant Guardian (AG) New York before Andy Savas took the post. He was a big guy, tall, maybe 6'2", sandy colored hair. Anyone from the old days remember him?

barbara graham
barbara graham

How can you tell when a Scientologist is lying to you?

Kate Bornstein
Kate Bornstein

Huh. Well, then it totally wasn't Mike—he was taller than me. Maybe he just wanted to claim some credit. Ewwwww.


In 'The Scandal behind "The Scandal behind Scientology"', Paulette Cooper describes Jerry Levin as "a short smiling redhead".

Kate Bornstein
Kate Bornstein

Mike got drunk one night and hinted to me that he was the guy. (I'm not sure I've got the spelling of his last name right, but that's how it was pronounced.)

CofS Exit Zone
CofS Exit Zone

Kate, is that suspicion based mainly on his description / timeframe... or do you by chance have other reasons to think Levin = McGee?

Inquiring hiveminds want to know ;)

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