Former high-level Scientologist Marty Rathbun revealed fascinating material yesterday on his blog: he claims that it’s evidence of a detailed “dark ops” program launched in 2006 by Scientology to destroy a woman named Tory Christman, who had left the organization several years earlier.
I know Christman well. In 1999 2001, I wrote a lengthy story about her defection, which had gained notoriety because she announced it in an online forum, where for months she had been doing battle with Scientology’s critics. Her sudden about-face, followed by a frantic flight from agents of the church who pursued her across the country, was dramatic enough. But leaving Scientology was not Christman’s only goal. She almost immediately became one of Scientology’s most tireless critics.
That apparently didn’t sit well with L. Ron Hubbard’s wacky cabal.
Rathbun at one time was one of the highest-ranking members of the organization until he defected and, in the last couple of years, has become one of the most outspoken critics of current Scientology leader David Miscavige. While he was still working for Miscavige, Rathbun was in a position to oversee Scientology’s storied operations against its critics. That may explain how he obtained the document he revealed yesterday, which begins “Eyes Only,” reflecting Scientology’s long history as a quasi-military organization.
What follows is reputedly a program outlined by Scientology’s “Operation of Special Affairs,” or OSA, the covert-operations wing of the church, which supplanted the earlier “Guardian’s Office,” which had been at the center of the notorious “Operation Snow White,” a years-long infiltration of the U.S. federal government which resulted in the 1978 indictment of 11 top Scientologists, including Hubbard’s wife, Mary Sue Hubbard. Hubbard himself was named an unindicted co-conspirator.
Scientology has long insisted that the Guardian’s Office was a rogue outfit operating without church oversight, and that although OSA has supplanted it, it doesn’t practice the kinds of spy-novel operations that the GO was known for.
This document doesn’t support that view.
It begins with a damning description of Christman, whose marriage split up when she left the church. Rathbun, before posting the document, gave Christman the opportunity to respond to its allegations, and her annotations highlight how the information in it is highly personal and, in most cases, exaggerated or outright mistaken.
What follows is then a step-by-step program for how to wreck Christman’s life. Her husband, who is still in Scientology, will be used to call her employer to get her in trouble.
The document suggests that a Scientology operative “use one of his resources” to become a client of Christman’s, and then to complain about her to get her in trouble with her boss.
The document also proposes to use Internet forums to post negative reviews of Christman’s work to ruin her business reputation.
Another item suggests that Scientologists would pose as customers of Christman’s employer and make false complaints about her work.
Another instruction suggests continuing the effort by one Scientologist to make online allegations that Christman had had a lesbian affair in college.
Another church initiative: “repeat the message that she is a crazy person taking anti-depressants.” (Christman notes that she has never suffered from depression.)
At the end, the document summarizes its goal: “By 30 April 2006 Tory discredited with the media, dismissed as an attacker or totally restrained and muzzled.”
Well, that didn’t work. As Christman notes, her employer was not affected by the program, if it was ever carried out, and she was later laid off in 2009 for economic reasons, not for the quality of her work.
Christman also notes that the irony that she was herself an OSA volunteer before her defection (something noted in my story about her), and that she has known that Scientology has been making some kind of concerted effort to discredit her. But it’s rare to get such an explicit view of how OSA operates. We’re reaching out to Tory today to talk to her directly about this and will provide updates as we get them.
UPDATE: Tory has put her own video response to the unearthed memo on YouTube:
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he’s been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard’s organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga — Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story — How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection — A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum — The ‘Crash’ Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape — ‘Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle’
The Aaron Saxton Accusation — Australia turns up the heat on Scientology
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation — Scientology’s former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross — Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 30, 2010