Scientology Waves the White Flag in Texas: The Debbie Cook Interview

Categories: Scientology

I'm sitting in a remarkable conference happening right now with Debbie Cook, her husband Wayne Baumgarten (pictured above), their attorney, Ray Jeffrey, and several other journalists.

It's just a few hours after the Church of Scientology surprisingly waved the white flag and dropped its attempt to keep Cook and Baumgarten gagged. Speaking with other journalists who have covered Scientology for many years, we could not remember another time when Scientology -- which has such an aggressive, litigious history -- simply gave up like this.

I'll provide excerpts as we go along. I'm typing as quickly as I can!

After journalists ask Ray Jeffrey some specifics about where the case is going from here, Debbie begins taking questions.

As to the $50,000 she took from Scientology...

Debbie: We didn't want the money. In fact there was a whole handling to get us to take the money, ahead of what was shown on the video.

Jeffery: In Wayne's video...he jumped up and left after he signed. They had to bring him back because he didn't take the money with him.

Debbie then said the money "was to convince us" to go where the church wanted them to go... "we were being told to go someplace we didn't want to go."


Debbie: We have to rebuild our business. We had a marketing company...quite a number of our clients were Scientologists, and they left.

On Scientology itself...

Debbie: I have grown up with Scientology my entire life. I feel that the Scientology religion and Mr. Hubbard are kind and caring and wonderful, and I really don't want people who don't know anything about Scientology hear these things that went on and for it to reflect badly on the church. Because really the reality is that these things are coming from one person. These horrible things are coming from one person, and maybe some others who have been made to join in and follow suit.

Debbie: I feel that this will help the church...hopefully to get it back to its origins, to its original goodness and kindness.

She's asked about the church's statement, that her testimony was false...

Debbie: I take very seriously being under oath, and I absolutely told the truth.

She adds that it makes a big difference having an attorney...

Debbie: This has really been a learning process for me. I've never been able to talk to an attorney, and talking to Mr. Jeffrey I'm learning so much about the law and the protections you get under the law.

She's asked how Scientology could be changed...

Debbie: I'm hoping that it will crate a reformation from within.

She's asked how many others at a place like Clearwater are under the same kind of control or duress.

Debbie: The people who make it to the highest levels of the church hierarchy, are people who have spent...decades working with the technology, working in the lower parts of the organization, and they will have experienced many life-changing things, much good.... But you don't see these really insane things happening until you get really high up and begin working with this particular individual...I was there 29 years, a lot of these things happened in the last 7 months of my being there. That's ultimately what put me in the decision of leaving.

I asked her, Debbie, have you been declared a suppressive person by the church?

Debbie: Actually, I don't know for sure. I have not been contacted by the church and shown anything on that. I've heard from other Scientologists that they've been told that I've been declared.

Debbie's asked if she's been contacted by the FBI.

Debbie: No.

How large is the reform movement in the church, she's asked.

Debbie: I don't know. What I can tell you is that I've gotten more than a thousand supportive e-mails since January 1 from Scientologists.

I asked her about the Scientologists who denounced her on Facebook. Did some of them privately tell her they supported her after making a public show of spurning her?

Debbie: Yes.

Again, she's asked about Scientology being reformed. Could it really work?

She says that if the place was run by Hubbard's principles, it would work well. And, perhaps more importantly...

Debbie: "It would have nothing to hide."

She's asked if the abuse we heard about at the Int Base in her testimony was all the abuse that was happening.

Debbie: You saw a tip of the iceberg.

Wow. Great interview. I have a videotape of it, and I'll upload it later today. Until then, signing off from San Antonio...

Update: So it turns out, after the interview, I came back to the hotel and proceeded to take a big, fat nap. But I hear those of you waiting to see video from this conference. I called the Tampa Bay Times guys, and they said they're working as fast they can to put up the tape they recorded. I'll see if there are at least a few excerpts I can put up relatively quickly before their edited pieces are ready. I apologize for the delay!

While you're waiting, you should really see the January 15 e-mail that Debbie Cook sent to Kathy True explaining all the awful stuff she could have put into her New Year's Eve salvo -- but ended up testifying to in court. In other words, Scientology knew full well what she was prepared to say and walked right into it.

Update #2: OK, so maybe, right about the time I got the first video ready to go, I got called out for some margaritas and couldn't help myself. I mean, it's not every day that you get to have drinks with the guy who used to be the second-highest-ranking official in the Church of Scientology (who stuck to diet coke, because he was about to drive a hell of a long way to South Texas). And then, imagine my luck when I subsequently had dinner with a couple of great guys who I will not name but who I am damn fortunate just to have shared the same room with.

Anyway, I could not pass up those opportunities, and I'm finally back in my hotel room and I figure I'll go late tonight posting videos and preparing tomorrow's commenters special. So those of you who have stuck with me through this amazing adventure, please hang on a little longer. Man, why is video so time consuming?

Debbie Cook Coverage in the Village Voice...

January 1: Scientology rocked by allegations of greed in e-mail to 12,000 church members

January 3: Is Scientology imploding? Watching the panic after a former executive dares to question church management

January 4: Scientology in crisis: Debbie Cook's transformation from enforcer to whistleblower

January 6: Scientology in turmoil: Debbie Cook's e-mail, annotated

January 31: Scientology sues Debbie Cook over her New Year's Eve e-mail

February 2: Debbie Cook files to dissolve Scientology's temporary restraining order: We talk to her attorney, Ray Jeffrey

February 3: Debbie Cook's motion denied: Scientology's restraining order remains in place until Thursday hearing

February 4: Scientology wants it both ways: The church's opposite legal strategies in Florida and Texas

Also, please see our primer, "What is Scientology?"

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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This Video was taken on 26th March 2010 on a Educational Symposium about Scientology Organized by the Workgroup Scientology of The Ministry of the Interior in Hamburg.


How can anyone still believe in Ron Hubbards teachings , when he was so cruel, apparantly everything he said was always right, and in the words of hana whitfield he said he was perfect.Even though he contradicted himself . Shouted for hours, and hours, punished people in inhuman ways                                  She struggled with the NEW material about thetans, back in the early days. She could not believe it when Hubbard said she had to apply it, and began to get headaches.   Obviously even for her it was fantasical and beyond comprehension that this would be true. Like sheep they followed, RH IS A WOLF IN SHEEPS CLOTHING, leading his sheep to the slaughter.   Followers have been led astray.

RH made every abhorent thing into a posative, without care or consideration for his fellow human being. Thats why no scientologist will say he is wrong, because they think he was perfect no matter what he did.

I admire Debbie for standing up and being counted,  but RH  was not a saint,  he was not perfect , no human being is as perfect.  Ron Hubbard was far from perfect.

Debbie, Marty and all the rest , id advice you to watch her speaking on UTUBE, if your dissolutioned with David M.  The cruelty , abuse, babys dying in nurserys, poor conditions, all happened when DM was a lad.  What has Hana to gain by  talking, the same as Debbie . If you dont believe what Hana says then should we dismiss the claims against DM

Iam Lamoore
Iam Lamoore

The executive branch of the United States Government is not to blame, by the way. Their hands are tied, in regard to Scientology (tied behind their backs, no less). And the Congress of the United States is no less restrained, in regard to the same subject.

This is the big league folks. Where fortunes and fame collide with calamity & collapse. Where politics and religion are akin to life and death. Ok, so that last line was a bit over the top. lol.

Bottom line: The fundamental premise of Hubbard regarding humanity was (and remains) true.

Being: Idiots rule the world.

Here then is an inside scoop in regard to that premise. Scientology will die a slow and painful death, only to be resurrected in another form. And the necessity of experiencing the pain of our individual stupidity, in order to understand the joy of our collective wisdom, will go on.


Iam Lamoore
Iam Lamoore

What if Scientology's legal team learned (somehow? lol) that arguing two sides of the coin (one in Florida and one in Texas, demanded they quit one and pursue the other? If they had won the Cook case (and got an estoppel on the Florida case) ok, maybe they win 300,000.00. On the other hand the might well rather win the Florida case and save millions if not 10's of millions of dollars if the courts decide 'Scientology Returns of Monies for services not provided is a Religious Question the courts are not permitted to interfere with.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage


You would have been 53 today. I'll never forget you! :-)

Synthia Elizabeth Fagen
Synthia Elizabeth Fagen

There has been so much coverage and so much to read, I am having a hard time keeping up with it all.

Tony, I have no words to express my gratitude to you. I am speechless.

Though you would probably not want to be so considered, I would like to call for your induction into the Hall of Patron Saints. :) You are loved and greatly, greatly appreciated.


Godspeed Tony O, may the source be with you.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

Okay Tony, did you have drinks with Marty? A lot of us are still sticking around for the video, take your time, but please hurry! (see wat I did there)


Hey Tony, which side entered the Kathy True email into evidence? It seems like this whole case has put nothing but "black PR" into the public record. With all its litigation, it seems the church should know better.

Mimi The Great
Mimi The Great

Video!! *squeal* this might be the longest amount of time I've paid attention to anything that I couldn't wear or that sparkles!


So happy to see Debbie smiling!  Great coverage Tony.  Thanks so much for the play by plays.

Carisa Marion 


I have predicted that SCN's attorneys will bail, or they will intentionally remain uninformed of the material facts which would require them to do so. (Don't tell me anything I could be subpoenaed for.) Either way its all good.


What I am beginning to wonder is what is next for the attorneys that folded.  These are hired San Antonio attorneys NOT hard-core SCN attorneys like Abelson.  I wonder what is in store for them since they failed in their "mission."My best guess is that if SCN tries anything that DM and the OSA guys are going to find out what real long-horn justice is all about.

Tony, have you made contact with them?


Hey Dwarf - talking to you, Micavige. This is your Waco. This is your Jonestown. By this time next week, you little creep, the entire country will think of you as the latest Jim Jones, the latest David Koresh. Your days are now numbered, your doom is sealed. You and that little creep you run with, Tom Cruise, are doomed. Better buy something in Bulgravia, turdblossom. Better blow the country. But even then, there will be no escape. You are OVER. 


I'm beginning to wonder it there's a problem with the video release, like maybe someone or something has gotten in the way of its release. I hope not. I hope that it's taking a while because its been a long day and these things take time. 

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

I was a little concerned about David Miscavige because he's going to "Federal Prison" soon. So, I did some research at the "Federal Bureau Of Prisons," and I am glad to let him know they have a fine Religious Program.

Institutions schedule religious services and meeting times for inmates of many faiths. Religious programs are led or supervised by staff chaplains, contract spiritual leaders, and community volunteers. Chaplains oversee inmate self-improvement forums such as scripture study and religious workshops, and provide pastoral care, spiritual guidance, and counseling.

Inmates can observe religious holy days and wear and use religious items consistent with their faith as long as this is consistent with policy and with the security, safety, and good order of the institution.

David, I don't think they will allow you to bring an e-meter into Federal Prison? Maybe your cellmate "Moxen" can petition the Warden for one.

Chocolate Velvet
Chocolate Velvet

It's possible that this may be a chess game on the part of Debbie Cook and co. The thought occurred to me when I first read the careful wording of the New Year's email and her subsequent responses, and it seems more and more likely as this thing unfolds. She worked for DM for a long time, and is probably quite familiar with his reactions in these situations. She would know which gambits to use to draw a certain "move" from the COB, and put him in check.

I would love to hear an expert legal opinion on this. It seems to me, a few strategic maneuvers, and DM and the COS themselves could deliver Debbie into a position to claim whistleblower status. Her saying she was part of "the biggest cover-up", openly, seems to be asking for it. It is an intriguing possibility.

Does anyone know how a whistleblower case is set off? I am off to do some reading on the subject myself...


Tony surprises us with his visit to Israel, Tony surprises us with his visit to San Antonio,

Can we get a travel account funded for this ground-breaking investigator?

I would donate cash, would you?

Jojo Wozz
Jojo Wozz

I am a 27 years old doctor,mature and beautiful. and now i am seeking a good man who can give me real love, so i got a sername Andromeda2002 on  Agedate.СòM, a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men, to interact with each other.Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

Roger Hornaday
Roger Hornaday

I wonder, when it really comes down to it, how many people will go that extra inch to helpDM. Besides Tom Cruise, does anybody REALLY like him?  

billy bob
billy bob

Did Debbie Cook cover for David Miscavige when she was deposed during the Lisa McPherson investigation?

It is interesting reading; check it out here:http://www .lisafiles .com/police/statements/3673(dot)html

The investigators repeatedly asked questions about the role of RTC in the events after Lisa McPherson died.  Mysteriously, many staff at Flag were demoted immediately following Lisa's death, but Debbie was on of the few staff who was not.  When asked about orders and investigations by RTC, Debbie pointed to OSA instead. 

Reading through the deposition, it is clear that Debbie was covering up for RTC, and David Miscavige. 

Now is the time to tell the truth.


Some thoughts;  Prominent ex-Sea Org with unclean hands, like Cook, Rinder and Rathbun, have to believe that they did not give their lives and do immoral and maybe illegal things for no good reason.  So they romanticize Hubbard.  Public members like Haggis have do not have as much baggage when they leave,It would be awesome if TonyO would interview Hanna Whitfield!Miscavage did not get to where he is by being stupid.  But I think years of unlimited power and unlimited Scotch have taken their toll.  He seems to have lost his edge.As for Cook, it would be interesting to hear what Maria Pia Gardini thinks of all this. 

Dean Fox
Dean Fox

The 5 factors governing the art of war.

1. Moral Law - a harmony and accord with the leader by the people so they will follow him regardless of personal danger.

2. The heaven - basically the weather conditions, though could be considered political, prevailing opinion. Subject to change.

3 Earth - the land, tactical layout, dangers, probabilities of win or loose. Less changeble.

4. The commander, his wisdom, sincerety, benevolence, courage and strictness. Need to be in that order of magnitude for correct balance.

5 Method and Discipline. Organisational skills, proper order, good supply.

Now where would one rate David Miscavige according to the above?

1: downward trending there alright2: bit choppy on the water and gusting to gale force.3: doesn't seem to be good at reading maps.4:no self control. No benevolence, insincere.doesn't want to come out to play in the real world, let alone stand up for what he believes in a court room.5: LOL?


"Darth Vader helmet"???So was Miscavige wearing his Princess Leia outfit?


Hey, Miscavige. Filing that restraining order was one big foot bullet, was't it? LOL

Real justice for freedom of speech was served. Can't wait for the fireworks when the rest of the case proceeds.. if Miscavige dares to continue to be a glutton for punishment.

Dean Fox
Dean Fox

This may be an attempt at a tactical retreat; in warfare such manouvers mean it didn't go as planned and there is a need to regroup, this can happen with the best planned operations and it's a good move to realise a tactical retreat is necessary.

In this instance the plan was ill conceived out of pure vindictiveness; if David Miscavige ever read The Art Of War by Sun Tsu he failed to comprehend it.

If he goes to it now and comprehends it he will surely hold his head in his hands and weep.

I doubt he has the capacity to appreciate what is happening and what will happen because his ego gets in the way.

David Miscavige may win the odd battle but his war is lost. If he were a proper scientologist he would step down and go on his church's voluntary religious retreats (RPF) for the remainder of his days.


  Scientology's getting her on the stand and testifying to even more abuses reminds me of a story:

   The 1962 NY Mets, trailing by one run in the Eighth and desperate to break a losing streak, scored two runs: the opposing team appealed to the third base umpire, sayingthat the runner missed third.  The umpire agreed, and called him out, ending the inning.  Manager Casey Stengal was furious, and ran out to argue.  He was ejected from the game, but kept arguing for several minutes. Finally, the second base umpire ran over, grabbed Stengal's arm and said "Casey, forget it--he also missed Second."

  The more the Church argues that there was no duress, the more damaging horror stories emerge under oath--it gets sillier and sillier.


Thanks Tony, awesome job!

It makes me very sad to hear that she's still so loyal to Hubbard's legacy. I will just never understand that, and I'm going to give up trying to.

I guess after 30 years it just becomes impossible for someone to admit that they've been had... that's like having your whole foundation ripped from beneath you.

Chocolate Velvet
Chocolate Velvet

Click on "Church Backs Down" story; the video has been added to the top of the page.


I think Debbie's lawyer entered this email into her submissions.


Well said Skip. The whole affair sure was extremely damaging to the church. I have to give it to Debbie - she came across as a balanced, likeble and yet very strong woman, firm in her opinions. And yet she is only attacking Miscavige and his leadership, not the [silly] LRH doctrine.  I have a feeling she will succeed in taking Miscavige down.


Unlike Sea Org members, Tony needs to take a nap once in a while.  At least that's my guess.  I know we've gotten accustomed to thinking he has Supah Powahz and is totally At Cause over time...


Correction - he's not going to "Federal Prison", David Miscavige is going to "Federal Pound Me in the Ass Prison".


Apparently the only one is Marcotai.  


Are you referring to the midget that wore the $1000 Hermes cardigan in the "We stand tall video"??


"Miscavige did not get to where he is by being stupid"

I disagree.  It doesn't take high intelligence to invoke fear in people when LRH wrote the handbook.  If Miscavige had a high level of intelligence then he would NOT be where he is today, which is a cult leader about to go down in flames.

billy bob
billy bob

I'd love to hear more from Hana Whitfield!

I just recently watched the video of her short talk in Hamburg on Youtube.Good stuff to hear, especially now as the false dichotomy is being put forward attempting to whitewash Hubbard's history and pin all the abuses on lil' Davy. 

Hana makes it clear how Lil' Davey really does take after the Old Man after all.

Some say David Miscavige is a Bad Scientologist.Actually, he's the most successful Scientologist of them all --The richest, most powerful, and thus the greatest living Scientologist.  And he got that by being a complete Megalomaniac psychopath like Ron, a Little Tyrant taking over a power structure made by a Daddy Tyrant.  

L Ron Hubbard's Tech.  Innovative?  No.Petty Tyranny is not a new development in the history of Mankind, unfortunately.


I have just seen a video on u tube on hana whitfield, my goodness what happens if you put good apples with a bad apple, thats exactly what happened. Hubbard was indeed a bad apple , all the good ones turned eventually,  no wonder david miscavage is the way he is , and those following  his orders. in scientology.  Hubbard was on a power trip.Yes Tony go and interview Hana Whitefield, her experiences are very telling.Perhaps R H  thought his last 2 initials standed for Royal Highness lol.


Paul Haggis did it. In the New Yorker piece about him, he talked about a feeling of emptiness after giving up what he had believed for so long. But he also talked about realizing that while he was in Scientology, he had blamed other people, particularly those close to him, for his own problems. Now he's learning how to be a better person.

Huge sunk costs must make it difficult to admit that you made a mistake. But that's no reason to keep throwing your life away. People can break out of L. Ron Hubbard's mindset and make real lives for themselves, no matter how long they've been trapped. So long as there's life, there's hope. (That's my fortune cookie wisdom for the day.)


I'm about to help her do just that. $cientology celebrities and the evil sounds of silence, coming to a Webscreen near you, shortly.

SP 'Onage
SP 'Onage

That's why he will need professional psych help (taking it in the bum is no fun!) which is provided for psychotic inmates like David Miscavige. Again, the "Federal Bureau Of Prisons" will provide him with an excellent "Mental Health Program.

The Bureau provides a full range of mental health treatment through staff psychologists and psychiatrists. The Bureau also provides forensic services to the courts, including a range of evaluative mental health studies outlined in Federal statutes.

Psychologists are available for formal counseling and treatment on an individual or group basis. In addition, staff in an inmate’s housing unit are available for informal counseling. Services available through the institution are enhanced by contract services from the community.

David, don't be afraid of prison psychs. Psychiartists work and they help people.


I meant "ecclesiastical leader"


By all accounts Miscavige is (or was) very good at reading people.  That is a kind of intelligence, which the even finest education cannot give you.  And history is full of people with a high level of intelligence who go down in flames.  That is hubris, another Miscavige trait.

Drat, I can't open the PDF of Cook's Jan 15 email.


typo error standed , should be stood


I'm with you on that. The best part in Haggis' story, was when he said that he had been seeing a psychologist after he left, and he wished he had done that at the age of 21 :)

Taking about embarrasing the church. A psychologist does in a few months what the church can't get right in 35 years.

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