Ursula Caberta on Scientology: "You Have to Be Always Watching Them"
This week, a 90-minute documentary about Scientology's intelligence-gathering wing, the Office of Special Affairs, aired on the French and German cultural channel ARTE.
Titled "Office of Special Affairs: Der Scientology-Geheimdienst" (Scientology's Secret Service), it included interviews with several people very familiar to readers of this blog: Marc Headley, Mike Rinder, Gerry Armstrong, and Tiziano Lugli. It also featured Ursula Caberta, the Hamburg politician who for years led a state-sponsored attempt to curb Scientology. We spoke to her on the telephone yesterday about the documentary. After the jump, her thoughts, as well as the documentary itself, with English subtitles.
"I think it's a good thing to do 90 minutes only on OSA," Caberta said to me from her home in Hamburg. The documentary focuses on the spy wing of the church, which also handles PR and legal affairs. The filmmakers are especially eager to talk to Rinder, who ran OSA for many years.
I asked Caberta if the documentary, airing on ARTE, would get good exposure.
"A lot of people in France and Germany will see it," she says. "The most interesting thing for us is the US government's role, how Scientology influences the US government. And how easy it is to get Washington DC to work for them. I think this is very important for us here in Germany to know."
She's referring to the way the US State Department has repeatedly gone to bat for the church, admonishing the German and French governments, who treat Scientology as a controversial business, not a religion.
"It changed with Clinton. I remember when Madeleine Albright came to Germany," says Caberta. "One of the most important things she wanted to talk about was discrimination against Scientologists by the German government. This was in 1993. In Germany and in France, government people said, 'Are you stupid, Ms. Albright?' A lot of people were very surprised."
In 2007, Caberta came out with her own book about Scientology's abuses, Schwarzbuch Scientology (The Black Book of Scientology).
"The US government, they came and asked me about the book. You can write a book about it? they asked. Yes, I live in a free country, I told them."
Despite the efforts made at the state level, she says attempts to ban Scientology on a federal level in Germany have failed because of American influence.
"In German law, we have the ability to ban a foreign organization if it's working against our constitution. The Scientology technology and what they're doing is against our constitution. It's a foreign group because the headquarters is in America. I'm sure that the German federal government did nothing to ban them because the US government did something to prevent it," she says.
In France, I pointed out, an appeals court upheld a decision that Scientology is a fraudulent business. Did this have an effect in Germany?
"It's very helpful, but France has very different laws than in Germany. It's easier to bring them to court in France. But it is helpful," she says. "And in Belgium, prosecutors for ten years are treating Scientology like a criminal organization. I heard a few days ago that the prosecutors are about to do something. We'll see. It could be very helpful."
In 2010, the Hamburg state ended its Scientology Task Force which she headed, for budgetary reasons. But she says she hasn't stopped keeping an eye on David Miscavige's organization.
"It's always the same, if you are not looking at what they are doing, they will grow in two or three years. You have to be always watching them."
Here's the 90-minute documentary, with English subtitles. Below, I'll list some highlights.
For me, the interviews with Headley, Rinder, and Armstrong were pretty familiar. But I thought the film worked best when it was describing the experiences of Ingo Heinemann, who runs a website critical of Scientology, and who was followed and harassed by OSA. We know this because the filmmakers also interview the OSA spy who sifted through Heinemann's garbage -- a man named Norman Suchanek.
We also learn that Rinder, when he was running OSA, considered Caberta a "pain in the ass."
Another highlight for me was the interview with French journalist Serge Faubert, who explains some of the mysterious problems with the French fraud prosecutions.
It's also nice to see what cool digs Tiziano has in the hills above LA -- and to see him confront one of the 70 different private investigators he's observed following him and casing his house.
On the down side, it felt like the filmmakers wasted time trying to get an interview with Tommy Davis. By this time last year, it was becoming clear that he'd been dropped as chief spokesman of the church, and we hear he's now spending time with his ill wife.
As Caberta says, the really interesting thing regarding OSA and Europe is the way Scientology continues to get support from the American government, even with so many revelations about its abuses in this country. The film could have used a little more focus on that, and less on all of its travels to various American Scientology sites. Just my 2 cents.
Samantha Domingo Featured in the Sun
Last July, we brought the exclusive story that Placido Domingo Jr. had decided to leave Scientology after it hassled him about his ex-wife, Samantha.
Samantha had left Scientology earlier and had dared to visit Marty Rathbun in Texas. Placido told us that this upset church officials so much, they insisted that he "disconnect" from her or face retaliation.
Although he and Samantha had divorced, they remain close friends and help each other raise their three daughters. Placido told church attorneys that he refused their suggestion to break away from his ex.
In retaliation, Placido told us, the church leaked private information he had told auditors in confidence by way of attack websites. Disgusted with the church's behavior, Placido told us he was washing his hands of Scientology.
Now, the Sun in the UK has a great story about Samantha and her own experience in Scientology, which included being forced to have an abortion during a previous marriage.
(Samantha is just one of many former Sea Org women who say they were forced to have abortions in order to keep up the relentless 100-hour work weeks in the organization.)
From the Sun piece...
Sam found herself falling for a colleague called Michael and they married. Despite being on the pill, she got pregnant. The church's response chills her to this day.
She said: "I was told in no uncertain terms this was not to be -- and to have an abortion as it was for the greater good.
"It felt like I had just committed a criminal act, the way they reacted. I was full of shock and horror. As I believed in this organisation at the time, the only option was utter compliance. My passport had been taken from me, so I couldn't just pack up and fly home.
"An 'ethics officer' helped arrange an abortion at a free clinic and I was given a week off to recover and then I was back on post as if nothing had happened.
"Michael and I divorced a short time later."
Scientology Sunday Funnies!
Just about every day, we receive the latest wacky and tacky fundraising mailers put out by Scientology orgs around the world. Thank you, tipsters, for forwarding them to us! On Sundays, we love to reveal them to you.
This week, rather than a colorful flier, we have an e-mail that was forwarded to us late Friday night. We had to agree with the tipster who sent it to us, who wrote: "Oh, dear! Heads will roll. David Miscavige is supposed to be at this grand opening. I hope he had more than one day's notice. My OT powers sense a big flap."
From: OC Ideal Org Live! [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 1:08 PM To: Orange County Subject: Re: OC Grand Opening.
Due to unforeseen construction delays we are postponing our grand opening and it will not be tomorrow the 19th of May. We can assure you that we are very close and we will be opening very soon!
Watch for our calls and emails informing you of the specifics and please spread the word to any other people you know that the opening will not be this Saturday.
If you have any questions or want more info on the opening feel free to contact any staff member at: 714-544-5491
See you at the Grand Opening!
OC Org Grand Opening I/C
We also received several e-mails this week which were all on a similar theme -- Super Power.
Apparently, there's suddenly a frantic effort to staff up and sell the Super Power rundowns -- a sign that Miscavige is trying to keep what appeared to be a promise at the Birthday Event in March to open the Super Power building by June 21. (I'm getting oily just thinking of it.)
Date: May 13, 2012 4:15:15 PM CDT To: Subject: A Message From The Super Power Project In-Charge
Our future holds a tremendous rocket ride for a being. With the 12 rundowns of Super Power, each and every Scientologist will be armed with the tools to truly effectively lead and master life. With your 57 channels of communication rehabilitated, your perceptions as a theta being will be at a level you have always dreamed of. And with the Cause Resurgence Rundown, a being will be totally aligned with total power and ability to be cause across the dynamics. These rundowns will drastically change the face of Earth.
It is the purpose of the Church of Scientology Religious Trust to expand the religion of Scientology and through its Super Power Expansion Project, you have been or have an opportunity to be part of the most historical project ever in Scientology. We are building our OT base and the center from which true power will be channeled across the planet. Its establishment of the entire New Flag Land Base is a strategic step in the plans to fully clear Earth.
I encourage you to see this project to full completion with your contributions. Our plans are to be delivering Super Power to you in the near future so that you will take this new level of power and ability and change the world. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
Lauri Webster Super Power Project In-Charge
Contact your Super Power Representative today at:
Phone Flag On-Board Representative: (727) 467-6946 VIP Representative: (727) 467-5039 Europe Representative: +45-33737799
E-mail Flag Office: email@example.com Europe Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address Flag Office: 319 S Garden Ave Clearwater, FL 33756
Europe Office: Jernbanegade 6 1608 Copenhagen V Denmark
What Is Super Power?
In 1978, LRH wrote about Super Power in Ron's Journal 30: "1978, The Year of Lightning New Fast Tech." He called it:
"A super fantastic, but confidential series of Rundowns that can be done on anyone whether Dianetic Clear or not that puts the person into fantastic shape unleashing the Super Power of a thetan... It consists of 12 separate high‑power rundowns which are brand new and enter realms of the tech never before approached." -- LRH
This was the year that he researched and released New Era Dianetics and NED for OTs. He called Super Power the most major technical breakthrough of that year! Super Power first addresses barriers to a person's ability to DO and to OPERATE, and handles these. Then the person is raised up to greater awareness of his environment. And finally it raises his competence level in his activities in life. Super Power raises the power of a thetan!
LRH made a discovery about perception during his research of these rundowns. A being has 57 perceptions and each one of them has channels along which he can sense things. LRH found that difficulties along a particular sense channel can exist despite there being nothing wrong with the sense channel itself. On Super Power, drills exist which train a thetan to perceive along each of the 57 sense channels.
Imagine doing a process that increases the ability to perceive magnetic fields, or the saline content of the body, or compass direction. How about having every one of the 57 sense channels open and operating and completely under one's control? That's just one of the 12 rundowns!
During the early days of research into Super Power, LRH found a new phenomenon and said:
"Apparently during the last decade, a new factor has entered into the culture that was previously only rare, possibly due to lowered educational standards or the declining nature of the culture itself, but most probably due to one of the common drugs or medications or even food deficiencies. A percentage which was only one or two seems to have jumped up to eighty or ninety. This factor is visible in a decline in the ability to tell identities, similarities and differences. The factor can be called 'Disassociation'."
Disassociation from situations, present time and in life, is a severe barrier to a being's ability and power. Think of a time you were trying to concentrate on something but were distracted. You didn't get much done. Well, multiply that to the nth degree in all activities in life and you get an idea of the extreme this can go to. Not everyone by a long shot suffers from it to this degree, but it can be present in varying degrees, any of which is HANDLED on Super Power.
These separate rundowns, audited in order, will take a thetan through the exact actions in sequence that he would use to perform effectively and dynamically on any post or job. It starts with handling a person's ability to be fully in‑ethics on all dynamics, then it addresses and handles any reason why a person might be stuck at a low point on the tone scale, his ability to predict consequences, his ability to assimilate and use data, to make decisions, and to be at cause over what occurs in his life.
Super Power was very appropriately named by LRH as it unleashes the true power of a thetan. Super Power does not replace the Grade Chart and can be run on any pc anywhere on the Grade Chart providing he is not in the middle of another major rundown and has handled any harmful effects of drugs, alcohol and medicine. The results are spectacular wherever the pc receives it.
Right now Scientologists are in a unique position. Normally tech breakthroughs are put together, printed and released and then the public have the opportunity to come in and take the new service. This release is very different as one has the opportunity to be part of getting out the release of a brilliant piece of LRH tech which will make world clearing a reality in the not too distant future. It is a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity. Be part of spearheading the way now!
THE 12 SUPER POWER RUNDOWNS
Ethics and Justice Repair Rundown Personal Revival Rundown Consequences Rundown Bright Think Rundown Study Rundown False Data and Loss Rundown (Part I) False Data Rundown (Part II) Cause Rundown. Power of Choice Rundown Perception Rundown Perception Drills Learning Drills Physical Universe Drills
SOME OF THE THINGS THESE RUNDOWNS CAN ACCOMPLISH ARE:
Releasing a person from out‑ethics on all flows on all dynamics.
Removing any reason for a thetan to remain at or below death on the tone scale.
Unsticking a person from points of disassociation on the track.
Putting him in shape to predict and build a future.
Removing the causes of any inability to assimilate data and learn.
Freeing a person from a fundamental mechanism which pins him to false data.
Straightening out his ability to think.
Restoring his power of choice over data, situations and activities.
Heightening his cause level.
Sharpening his perceptics and in many cases restoring perceptics the person had thought to be lost or impaired or non‑existent.
(Another breakthrough LRH made during the time he was researching Super Power was that a thetan can have missing or impaired perceptics stemming from reasons quite in addition to case and he developed a dynamite handling for this.)
Orienting a person to his activities in life, from the new viewpoint of having had all the gains from the earlier rundowns.
Late in 1978, LRH had auditors brought in from all over to train on Super Power and this was the advent of the New World Corps.
However, he found that the standards of the TRs and metering needed to deliver Super Power were lacking and from this need to make auditors with the presence and basic auditing skills to deliver Super Power, he researched this, which led to the developments resulting in the Key To Life Course which was followed by the Hubbard Life Orientation Course.
Super Power is the original tech breakthrough which led to all these other tech releases and now that these other courses (which represent steps needed to ensure proper training of Super Power auditors) are firmly in place, Super Power itself can be released.
Here's a flier featuring the Turnaround King himself...
And finally, here's a real treat from the UK: shiny happy people at Saint Hill Manor!
Commenters of the Week!
Last week, we kicked things off by breaking news about the lyrics to "So Long," a second Lisa Marie Presley song from her album Storm and Grace that appears to describe her break from Scientology.
John P. agreed with us that this second song seems to settle things...
The lyrics to this song added to the last one seem to remove any doubt that Lisa Marie Presley is out. She might launch an outright attack, or she might smile coyly and deflect any questions about whether the lyrics are specifically about Scientology, unless the church, under crazed Chihuahua-like leader David Miscavige, does something to "fair game" her, then she goes to war.
TheHoleDoesNotExist noted that this news was coming on a significant date...
Happy Mother's Day, Lisa Marie Presley! And welcome to the real world. I wish you the best outcome with all your family huddled around you and with you on this. You have given your children the best gift any Mom can give her family: Free will. By now you have realized that is what Scientology takes away, one choice, one decision, and one manipulation at a time until that day comes when even your children or parents are put on the potential enemy list.
And anne captured the mood of many, who'd been feeling a bit down...
Been a tad depressed ever since the Deb Cook case settled,and feeling somewhat defeated. But along comes Lisa Marie singing this song,and once again I feel the warmth of the sun. Here comes the sun..... Bless you Lisa is all I can say, bless you.
Monday, we noticed that Lisa Marie had removed nearly every mention of Scientology from her website -- and soon after we pointed out one last remnant, it too disappeared. But later, some mentions of CCHR reappeared on the site, so who knows.
Kate Bornstein offered an explanation for how Lisa Marie's songs could so plainly describe her defection, at the same time that her public statements are more ambiguous.
I think I understand why she's not saying "Scientology." When I first started talking about Scientology, years ago, I also used veiled language. When you're a member of that group for as long as she was, you're scared to speak out at first. It's websites like this that finally give a person the courage to call a cult a cult. What she's saying -- veiled as it is -- is already powerful. I look forward to the day she knows she can speak and sing freely.
Bruce Hines answered Kate's statement with his own...
I can corroborate this. After I left I was scared to say anything to anybody. Plus, I still avoided researching Scientology on the Internet. Gradually, I started to read things online that were negative about the Co$. It became clear to me that many others had had similar experiences to mine. One tends to think that the things that happened to oneself were isolated incidents, not general. Then, via the Internet, I got back in touch with Chuck Beatty, who was a friend in the Sea Org. He pointed out that Dan Garvin had posted a lot about his Sea Org experiences with no retaliation from the Co$. But I was still very careful. Slowly I became more relaxed about it. Then some family members close to me, who were still in the Co$, disconnected. Several months later a reporter (Richard Leiby of the Washington Post) contacted me, via Chuck, and wanted to interview me. As I had no more family to lose at that point, I agreed to the interview, though still with some trepidation. This was over a year and a half after I had left. From there, I gradually gained more courage to speak out more. But it definitely is something, in my opinion, that goes through stages. None of it would have happened without the knowledge and opinions available on the Internet. It is heartening to realize that someone working for Lisa Marie, or she herself, is reading about Scientology on the Internet.
On Wednesday, we brought you the story of Derek Bloch, a young man who had grown up in Scientology, discovered he was gay, and then became disaffected with the church. After he wrote up his experiences anonymously at the Ex-Scientologist Message Board, Scientology declared him a suppressive person and his entire family kicked him out of their house and "disconnected" from him.
Many of our readers expressed support for Derek. We were moved by all of them. There was this message from Chocolate Velvet...
Derek, first of all, congratulations on breaking away! As a mother, I am utterly outraged at the way your parents handed you over to Scientology. No child should ever be bereft of his parents' concern and protection. One day, they will wake up to their mistakes, and I assure you the grief will not be something they can audit away. I am glad you are telling your story, and building a life outside of the Sea Org. It is so hard to leave behind what you are brought up to believe, and I applaud your courage. There are lots of people who know how it is, because they've been there -- they'll be reaching out to offer support now that your story is spreading. It is very sad that your family has chosen not to be a part of your life -- but we all know the coercion that goes on, so bless 'em and I hope they wake up soon. As for you, Derek, may your life continue to get better, bigger, and more truly free.
Patty Moher wrote from the heart...
Derek, thanks so much for your courage and taking a stand against this cult. I was a homophobic Scientologist for 27 years and thought and felt as your parents do. Fortunately for me, when I left the cult and stripped myself of cult thinking my homophobia left me. Now I am a strong supporter of gay/lesbian rights and my very closest and dearest friends that I love with all my life are a lesbian couple that are like my sisters. So dear Derek, don't give up hope on your family. They too may come to their senses one day.
And Artoo45 got angry...
As a gay man Derek's story makes my blood boil. As a human being it brings tears to my eyes. Mr. Miscavige is a walking example of Hubbard's tech in action. Both tortured and torturer, his virulent homophobia combined with his masculinity obsession says only one thing to me. I grieve for the abuses he must have endured to end up as such a sociopath, but not as much as I grieve for those who have been his victims.
On Friday, we reported that an enterprising New Zealand reporter, having read our stories on Lisa Marie Presley's songs, asked her outright about their lyrics seeming to describe her defection from Scientology. She begged off, but didn't deny that her songs are about her leaving.
Gina Smith offered this explanation for what Lisa Marie might be going through...
I can understand she wouldn't want the publicity about her blowing to overshadow what seems to be some pretty decent music that she's made. All Lisa Marie's life she's been overshadowed by famous parents and husbands, even her religion, so it's understandable she wants to let the music be the focus for just once. Something she created on her own. Heck, I saw a tabloid story about one of her children and the empasis was all on 'Elvis' grandson'. It has to be rough when the world can't even give you credit for your own kid.
Mimi the Great pointed out that Lisa Marie has a lot to lose if she's more plain...
A Lisa Marie Presley non-answer is just as telling. If she were still a happy parishioner....or a parishioner in any sense, a non answer wouldn't be acceptable. If she's left, it's obvious she has family IN, a non answer may be her attempt to keep that family intact for as long as she can.
And finally, wannabeclear offered this well-reasoned assessment...
If Lisa Marie wanted to shut down any talk that her lyrics are anti-Scientology, she could have answered that question by simply saying "no." If pressed further she could have then said that as a rule she doesn't discuss what her lyrics are about or religion. Instead she said she was backed into a corner. That seems pretty telling. Why would she feel backed into a corner if it weren't true?
Writing those lyrics was a huge step for someone who has been indoctrinated and influenced (and damaged) by this cult for so long. Despite the brave declaration in her music, I wouldn't discount the amount of fear of influence that must still exist for her. Creating a statement in a piece of art is one thing, and the fact that it's art provides cover the intentions of the lyrics -- a sort of plausible deniability. Whereas, coming out and saying, "yes, this shit fucked me up and I'm done with it" to a journalist is a whole other level that could be be enormously daunting.
I think it's natural that recovery would not be an overnight process. It takes a long time to shake the damage that's been done and despite the need to do so, that cognitive dissonance is an ugly beast that can rear its head even after the spell has been broken. The removal and reinstatement of the CCHR propaganda on her website would seem to be evidence of that ambivalence.
Well, this was a busy week. And my personal thanks if you've managed to plow through all this material in what turned out to be quite a voluminous Sunday post.
Please remember to check our Facebook author page for schedules and updates!
********** Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at email@example.com, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.
New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.
As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.
Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.
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