UPDATE: Andrew Morton provides much more detail about Scientology’s attempt to gain tax breaks in the UK with the help of Bill Clinton’s influence. Take a look at his informative article at The Morton Report.
After holding a press conference that was covered widely in Germany, former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun appeared last night on a television talk show that we hear is very popular there. Of all the things he talked about, one that seems to be getting the most buzz regards Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair.
Quick background for those just catching up: For 27 years, Marty Rathbun was a member of Scientology and reached its highest levels, becoming the second most powerful executive before leaving the organization in 2004. Two years ago, he began criticizing current church leader David Miscavige on a blog. And now, he’s on a trip to Germany to meet with Ursula Caberta, a government official who, since 1992, has worked to curb Scientology’s influence in that country.
Rathbun and Caberta appeared together on the Markus Lanz show, and that’s when Rathbun was asked about Scientology’s attempts to influence the U.S. government about Scientology’s status in Germany, which he had mentioned at a press conference the day before.
Now that Rathbun is out of Scientology, he has confirmed to Caberta what she has long suspected — that Scientology used its celebrities to influence the Clinton Adminstration and its State Department in particular to denounce Caberta’s attempts to publicize Scientology’s abuses.
Lanz asks Rathbun if it was true that Scientology tried to influence Clinton at the “highest levels.”
Here’s what I could get of Rathbun’s answer, which has a German translator talking over him, so it was difficult to get it entirely right…
I witnessed the phone call. I was there when Tom Cruise made the phone call to Bill Clinton and spoke about contacting Blair to help the church with its charity status in the UK, and David Miscavige was there, who was very head of the church, and dangling in front of Tom Cruise the coveted International Association of Scientologists Freedom Medal which is a great honor to be given to a public member, if he pulled this off.
It’s not news that the Clinton State Department went to bat for Scientology, condemning Germany’s efforts, and it’s also not news that Scientology tried to influence Clinton through its celebrities, such as John Travolta. But I can’t remember Rathbun mentioning this before, that he personally witnessed Cruise getting the president on the phone to have him work on Tony Blair.
As for the mention of the IAS Freedom medal, that too has resonance — because Miscavige did eventually give Cruise the IAS medal of valor, in 2004, and to prepare for that ceremony Miscavige had a special 9-minute video made of Cruise talking about his fervor as a Scientologist. That video was later leaked to the Internet in 2008, which changed the world of Scientology watching forever.
The Markus Lanz show, part 1:
I told Mike Rinder, the former Scientology spokesman, that another remarkable moment for me was during yesterday’s press conference, when Rathbun seemed to become emotional talking about the moment when, he says, he was ordered by Miscavige to attack Rinder, his longtime friend. When he had Rinder by the lapels, he began to realize that he was in a situation that made no sense. Soon after, he left Scientology.
I asked Rinder if it surprised him to see Rathbun choked up about that.
“It did a bit,” he said. “Because obviously we’ve talked about it many times. And it’s been reported numerous times. The church always says that they came to my rescue and saved him from murdering me. It’s such a fucking joke. Any tiny incident that they can grab hold of gets twisted into monster proportions.”
But even if Rinder’s life wasn’t in danger, it was a key moment in their history, and it was interesting to see Rathbun struggle to speak about it.
I’m hoping to have a lengthy discussion with him about the trip when he returns.
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#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
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
Tommy Davis, Scientology spokesman, secretly recorded discussing ‘disconnection’
Scientology internal document says its Office of Special Affairs will ‘handle’ the Village Voice