Scientology Responds in Typical Fashion to South Park Investigation Documents
UPDATE: Lloyd Kaufman confirms that he was asked about Trey Parker and Matt Stone by Scientology's Eric Sherman in 2006. And Mark Ebner adds further confirmation with his own leaked OSA document. Also, a private investigator describes sifting trash for the Church of Scientology.
As we've been reporting the last couple of days, a man who was once the second-highest ranking executive in Scientology, Marty Rathbun, has made public several documents showing that in 2006, the church attempted to dig up dirt on South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Those documents come from Scientology's "Office of Special Affairs," which has long overseen the church's retaliation and spying operations. Rathbun himself oversaw similar operations during his many years at the top levels of Scientology, and another recent defector, Mike Rinder, led OSA for some 20 years before leaving the church in 2007.
Yesterday, a newspaper in the UK, The Independent, managed to get a response about the controversy from Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw. And in typical Scientology fashion, her response only makes things worse for the church.
First, a word about Pouw. She is doing double duty since chief Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis went into seclusion. Formerly a ubiquitous presence in television programs about Scientology, Davis has hardly been heard from since he went away earlier this year. (Longtime former Scientologists tell us that they assume church leader David Miscavige soured on Davis's work and has him under wraps at Scientology's secretive California desert headquarters.)
Pouw herself is well-known to regular readers of this blog. As I have written previously, in 1999 I had lunch with her at Scientology's Hollywood Celebrity Centre, and she got angry when I questioned her about the church's upper-level teachings, which include L. Ron Hubbard's assertion that Jesus didn't actually exist, but was a mental implant which the alien souls inside us carry around. Steamed, she eventually blurted out, "So what if we believe Jesus is a figment of the imagination?"
In recent months, I have repeatedly attempted to get Pouw on the phone about the stories we report here, but she never calls me back. She did, however, give The Independent a statement:
Dear Mr. Adams,
Thanks for contacting us.
I looked into it and the Church knows nothing about the document. It was put out by an individual who is an admitted liar and suborner of perjury. He probably obtained the document from Mike Rinder, his best good buddy.
Pouw has already screwed the pooch, and she's only a few sentences into this thing.
"They pretty much acknowledge the authenticity right there," Marty Rathbun said to me this morning after I showed him Pouw's statement. "They never said the document was forged or created. They wouldn't dare -- because that might lead to proceedings where I absolutely would prove otherwise. Lame."
You see, Pouw knows full well that until 2007, Mike Rinder was the executive director of the Office of Special Affairs, and oversaw every one of its operations -- which would include a 2006 investigation of the South Park creators. Rinder left Scientology in 2007. Rathbun had left earlier, in 2004. In 2009, Rathbun started his blog and began releasing internal OSA documents from the time Rinder ran things.
By accusing Rinder of being the source of the documents, Pouw only vouches for their authenticity. He is, after all, the most credible source of such material, since he ran OSA for about 20 years.
In July, we looked carefully at another set of OSA documents that had been leaked by Rathbun -- in this case, to Marc Headley, not on Rathbun's blog -- which showed that Scientology had carried out a complex operation to turn Headley's friends into spies for the church. We were able to confirm with Headley that the documents reflected what had actually happened, and we even were able to get one of the spies to confirm that he had been recruited to get information about Headley, just as the documents describe.
Pouw, in her statement, then describes Rinder in a rather stunning way:
Rinder is another apostate who was removed from his position in the Church for, among other things, his "fight people at all costs" tactics.
In 2009, Rathbun and Rinder both spoke publicly for the first time since leaving Scientology in a St. Petersburg Times series, "The Truth Rundown." Both claimed that they had left the church because church leader Miscavige had become violent and irrational.
Pouw here proposes a very different scenario: that Rinder was too rough in the way he ran operations at OSA, and had to be let go. (This is the first I've heard that version from the church.) It's hard to take that at face value, however, when both Rathbun and Rinder have experienced some of the most brutal retaliation in recent memory. Throughout this year they have been surveilled in their homes, followed in their cars, and have been subject to intimidation tactics designed to disrupt their lives and livelihoods -- all of which has been well documented here.
Rathbun was removed in 2002 and Rinder five years ago. The tales told by the sources of this story reflect the type of mindset that resulted in their removals and later expulsion from the Church. They've been spreading false tales to the media for two years and it is bizarre that they now bring up this alleged document. They are neither current nor credible sources.
All year, Rathbun has made public documents which show how OSA operates. He has many more he still plans to make public. This week, it happened to be about South Park's Parker and Stone. That timing might appear bizarre to Pouw, but it doesn't make the documents any less compelling.
Both sources have already confessed, in their own words, that the type of conduct they are referring to is exactly what was unacceptable to the Church, stating such things as, Rinder: "Bottom line is that I have had a totally criminal moral code and operated with a totally criminal mind attitude that I have not fully confronted (even down to lying about lying and doing illegal things)." And Rathbun: "When there is a threatening situation or suit, [I] get the [external affairs] staff and attorneys wound up toward 'destroying the threat.'"
Note what Pouw is doing here -- she is trying to hurt the credibility of Rathbun and Rinder by quoting them as they talk about how they operated while they were Scientology executives. The documents Rathbun has leaked, meanwhile, only go to confirm what they had said about themselves, that as church leaders, they were charged with attacking perceived enemies. Pouw, in other words, only provides justification for the behavior described in the OSA papers.
As to South Park, the Church has nothing to say. We haven't heard about the show in years. The record shows that since the show aired, the Church never did a thing.
You are being led down the primrose path by a couple of liars posting sensationalistic rumors on a small time blog. This isn't a story, I'm sorry.
And there you have it: no denial from Pouw that the church surveilled Parker and Stone, searched through public records and their trash -- and did the same to their close friends -- or attempted to put a mole in their office.
Scientology knows only one way: attack the critic. And once again, that's what they've done here.
We're only beginning to look into the OSA documents that describe Scientology's operation against South Park. I've seen several news organizations refer to our coverage and say that the OSA operation either didn't turn up dirt on Parker and Stone or that it "fizzled out." We don't know that, and we haven't said that. As soon as I have additional documents which describe what did actually happen to OSA's attempt to put a mole in the South Park offices or when it went through John Stamos's trash, I'll let you know.
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.
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
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