While we wait for tomorrow’s update in our big countdown, we have a tale today that takes us to the upper end of Scientology’s vaunted “Bridge.”
It involves a man who, according to L. Ron Hubbard’s original precepts, should be nearly superhuman, a ‘homo novis’ or New Man, practically a god among us mere mortals.
Join us, will you?
We take you to Miami Beach, Florida, where the “Squirrel Busters” briefly surfaced this past week. If you’ve been reading our dispatches here lately, you know about the epic siege going on near Corpus Christi, Texas, where we first learned about the Squirrel Busters. In a small town there, Ingleside on the Bay, lives a man named Marty Rathbun, who until 2004 was one of the most high-ranking officials in Scientology. Over the last two years, he’s been operating a blog that is highly critical of current church leader David Miscavige. In a bizarre form of retaliation and intimidation, Scientology sent a goon squad of church members from around the country to surveil Rathbun’s house day in and day out, film his every activity, and attempt to get him so angry that he’ll lash out at them. (They call themselves “Squirrel Busters” because Rathbun is still an adherent of L. Ron Hubbard’s “technology,” and the church labels people “squirrels” who practice Scientology outside the official church.)
As we’ve seen, different people have rotated in and rotated out of the Squirrel Busters crew, and there’s solid evidence now that the entire operation is being run by a longtime Scientology private investigator named David Lubow, who operates a “war room” in a local hotel and keeps in touch with church officials in Los Angeles.
One member of the Texas goon squad that Rathbun has also identified is Edward Bryan, a La Mesa, California resident and such a longtime Scientologist, he’s reportedly reached its highest spiritual level, known as “OT VIII.”
According to figures recently published by Ohio State professor Hugh Urban, the years of training it takes a Scientologist to reach OT VIII come with fees that add up to about $350,000 to $400,000. And for all that expensive spiritual training, Ed Bryan should just about be superhuman. Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard enticed followers with promises that by the time they had reached OT VIII — and all of the disembodied alien souls that are attached to the rest of us had finally been removed from the OT VIII through years of auditing — the now unencumbered subject should have amazing powers: telekinesis, total recall, and basically the ability to make anything in the physical universe happen just with the use of your mind.
Ed Bryan has reached that level of stupendous power.
For some reason, however, he chooses to use his super powers in the oddest ways. We saw in this video, for example, Bryan dancing on the prow of a boat, celebrating the fact that the Squirrel Busters had stooped so low as to surveil Rathbun from a listing paddle boat in the canal behind his house…
And last week, after leaving the south Texas siege in other hands, Bryan traveled to Miami Beach with another Squirrel Busters crew to target another arch-enemy of the church: former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder.
Rinder was once one of the most visible faces of Scientology, appearing on television shows arguing with journalists about the church. But in 2007 he left, and, like Rathbun but with less volume, has also been speaking out about Miscavige and current church leadership.
But he also needs to make a living, and he’s working in the medical technology field. Last week, he was at a trade show at the Miami Beach Convention Center to get the word out about a product his company is selling.
“It’s a system of making ice that makes ice that’s not contaminated, which is a big problem in hospitals,” Rinder told me today by telephone.
While Rinder was inside the trade show talking about his ice maker, Bryan and a Squirrel Busters crew, as well as Jim Lynch, a reporter who works for Scientology’s magazine Freedom, showed up to the conference.
“Bryan was out in the parking lot, on the sidewalk. He and his Squirrel Busters buddies with their silly hats and fluffy squirrel dolls. They had this hat that was like a big fluffy squirrel hat, the strangest thing you’ve ever seen,” Rinder says. “People thought they were morons.”
As long as they stayed on the sidewalk, they were left alone by the convention center’s security guards. On Thursday, Rinder says, Lynch came inside, but was chased away when he was questioned about his ID. The next day, it was Bryan who attempted to come into the conference to confront Rinder more directly.
“All these guys are trying to do, and it goes for the Squirrel Busters down with Marty, is to try and get a rise out of you,” Rinder says. “Get in your face and say something about your wife or get a rise out of you so that you will react and they’ll have it documented, and then they can get you prosecuted. That’s it. They have no purpose to actually accomplish anything.”
Before Bryan could cause any chaos, however, Rinder had security check the badge he was wearing to get into the place.
According to an incident report released by the Miami Beach Police, Bryan snagged a discarded badge by way of some dumpster diving:
Upon arrival I was advised by convention center security that the def (Bryan) has been warned of trespassing a number of times over the last few days. Today the def went into a trash can on the outside of the building and obtained used credentials, allowing him to gain entry into the event without paying.
Bryan, 71, was hustled out of the place and was arrested.
For some reason, he chose not to use his Scientology super powers to melt his handcuffs with his mind, toss the police like rag dolls with his brain waves, or simply levitate himself out of Miami Beach. We don’t know why, but we’re trying to reach him.
I asked Rinder if the Squirrel Busters succeeded in disrupting his trade show at all. Not in the least, he answered.
“It was an extremely good conference. And [Bryan and the others] have now alienated and destroyed whatever reputation they may have had with the Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami Beach Police Department, Miami Fire Department, and with the people who were at the show. These people ended up being the subject of a lot of snickering and people taking photos,. They make fools of themselves wherever they go.”
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#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
See all of our recent Scientology coverage at the Voice
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin’ Scared
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 Robert Cipriano Case — A Hellacious Example of Fair Game
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
A Church Myth Debunked — Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back — Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack — The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
A Scientologist Excommunicated — The Michael Fairman SP Declaration
The Richard Leiby Operation — Investigating a reporter’s divorce to shut him up
The Hugh Urban Investigation — An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology’s past
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh — A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link
Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology — A masterful telling of Scientology’s history
The Western Spy Network Revealed? — Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige
Scientology’s Enemies List — Are You On It?
Inside Inside Scientology — An interview with author Janet Reitman
Scientology and the Nation of Islam — Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman!
Scientologists — How Many of Them Are There, Anyway?
Roger Weller’s Wild Ride — Scientology When it was Hip
The Marc Headley Infiltration — A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed
Placido Domingo Jr: Scientology’s Retaliation is “Scary and Pathetic”
An Interview with Nancy Many, Former Scientology Spy
The Paulien Lombard Confession — A Scientology Spy Comes Clean
The Deputy Benjamin Ring Hard Sell — Scientology wants your 401K
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology — the whole series!
The Squirrel Busters Busted — Unmasking the Scientology PI in Charge