How the Church of Scientology used, and STILL uses, the American legal system to destroy critics

11 07 2008

Glosslip: How the Church of Scientology used, and still uses, the American legal system to destroy critics

June 30, 2008

What is lawfare and how does this relate to the cult?

In the post 9/11 era, new terms and new ideas to describe how war is currently being fought today have popped up in the media, in the press, in the think tanks and on blogs on all sides of the spectrum. One such term is lawfare. On page 55 of the book Unrestricted Warfare, it calls for the use of “international law warfare (seizing the earliest opportunity to set up regulations)” along with a set of other types of warfare that an enemy with more firepower cannot withstand for long . Since 2001 the term has been used to describe how individual supporters of terrorism have tried to silence people who expose them. Take the case of Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi Arabian billionaire who sued American author Rachel Ehrenfeld for libel in the UK because in her book Funding Evil she named him as a major contributor of money to terrorist organizations. British libel laws place the burden of proof on the defendant, and given Dr. Ehrenfeld’s limited resources even with government documents as proof, she lost. In 2008, Governor George Pataki of New York signed Rachel’s Law, which grants protection to American citizens being sued by what are called libel tourists . The laws of the US and the UK are different when it comes to freedom of speech and the protection of that right.

Lawfare, to give you a tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) definition, is the use of a country’s legal system by an individual or corporation to utterly crush their adversaries. The term is currently used in the context of the War on Terror, but the definition should be broadened to include any other individual or group who tries to ruin an adversary in court. Including the Church of Scientology.

“We are going to sue your ass and your balls!”

Recently, the Canadian magazine Maisonneuve published an an article on long time Scientology critic Gerry Armstrong, detailing the enduring harassment campaign against him. The author of the article goes so far as to call him Scientology’s Salman Rushdie because of the severity of the Church of Scientology’s harassment of him . Armstrong was once in the close inner circle of Scientology’s founder L. Ron Hubbard, and was asked to help author Omar Garrison to compile a biography of Hubbard. When he found out much of Hubbard’s life story had so many discrepancies, to put it lightly, he couldn’t work on the biography project anymore. When he left the cult in 1981, he had boxes of material on L. Ron Hubbard that was embarrassing for him and the cult, and so began the harassment campaign against him. In 1986, Armstrong signed a gag agreement with the Church of Scientology yet he couldn’t remain silent. Because he has broken the agreement, the cult has sued him many times in the state of California and tried to put him in jail. He fled to his hometown of Chilliwack, Canada but even there, Gerry Armstrong gets no rest.

That is lawfare. Because the Church of Scientology breathes down his neck at all times, he has not been able to find a job, and every job he has had in the past he was forced to leave. That is lawfare. Destroying the enemy by any means possible so that he or she cannot have a life.

“To get PC incarcerated in a mental institution or jail, or at least to hit her so hard that she drops her attacks ”

In 1968, a young author from New York wrote an expose about Scientology, which later was expanded into her 1971 release The Scandal of Scientology. Paulette Cooper did not know that this would bring about a long campaign to destroy her entirely. The Church of Scientology even went so far as to frame her for bomb threats the Church of Scientology sent to itself with stationary stolen from Cooper’s apartment. In this day and age of CSI, she may have been let off the hook in no time, but in the 1970s the Scientologists did a pretty good job to frame her for a crime she did not commit. Paulette Cooper faced 15 years in prison because of it. Then in 1977, the FBI raided Scientology offices around the country, and discovered Operation Freakout, a plan that expanded on their success with the previous forged bomb threat. After that discovery, she was finally exonerated of all charges.

Cooper later wrote in an article in 2007: “As for me, I often wish I had never ever heard the word ‘Scientology’. But given the same situation, I would still do it all over again. I would not have been capable of remaining quiet, because I learned too many scary things and talked to too many people who were being hurt.” . She paid a huge price to expose Scientology, not just through her book but also through what happened in her life for more than a decade. That is lawfare. For the entire decade, they did not let her go on with her career or her life, and she paid a price for it.

The wolves in watchmens’ clothing

For a long time if Scientologists wanted to get out of the cult, they could call the hotline for the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) and get help from experience anti-cult activists. Since 1996 however, the Church of Scientology operates CAN as another front group. The Church of Scientology launched a massive lawsuit against CAN and its former director Cynthia Kisser, and in 1996 the CAN declared bankruptcy. As part of the ruling against the CAN, it had to turn over boxes of confidential files on all the cults it tracked, including Scientology. Nowadays if one visits the website for the new CAN, one can see how different it is from the old CAN. There is no section on Scientology, and all the sections on other cults blame psychiatry for the actions of those cults. The scapegoating of psychiatry should be a dead give away for those who are familiar with this cult.

This is lawfare. Crippling an adversary through lawsuits and then administering a hostile takeover is an act of war. And other cults that are smaller than Scientology in size and influence have benefited from this lawfare.

Pleading the First in court

The Church of Scientology is well known for always bringing up religious freedom, and the right to practice a religion other than Christianity. The cult claims it has the right to practice certain things because it’s covered by the First Amendment. In 1989, the Church of Scientology appealed the initial ruling for the Wollersheim vs. Church of Scientology of California case, saying the practice of “fair game” against critics and former Scientologists is “a core practice of Scientology and therefore protected as religious expression”.

Now think of what a heinous precedent that would set, especially when dealing with cults. If this appeal was upheld, then cults can later point to this lawsuit and hide behind that. The FLDS in Texas tried that already. And other groups and individuals that wage lawfare on their opponents could easily argue that it’s a “religious practice”. Lawfare would be more prevalent in American courtrooms than ever.

Best example of the worst example

Compared to Khalid bin Mahfouz, the Church of Scientology is a giant when it comes to lawfare. Bin Mahfouz only has power in the UK, but the Church of Scientology has established itself worldwide. It is vital that the Church of Scientology be made an example of. All the lawyers the cult hires should be reported to local Bar associations every time they send ‘cease and desist’ letters to people exercising their free speech rights. The ACLU should be contacted as well as Congressmen and women and Senators. Most of all if there is enough noise, the Church of Scientology may become the subject of a Congressional hearing.

This should be done to make the best example of the worst example of lawfare.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: