--- Following message extracted from ANEWS @ 1:374/14 ---
By Christopher Baker on Thu Sep 14 23:40:23 1995
Date: 13 Sep 95 18:52:31
Subj: Scientology's War Against the Internet: Annotated w/ URLs
From: eskinews!nyxfer.blythe.org!nyt (NY Transfer News Collective)
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 21:52:31 -0400 (EDT)
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
[The following is the definitive history to date of the persecution
by the cult of Scientology against its opponents on the Internet. It
includes URLs and other e-mail addresses where more information can
be obtained. The situation is rapdily changing, since Scientology's
legal funds seem limitless, and its vengeful staff tireless in pursuit
of those it deems "enemies." Sites listed here may be outdated within
days of their publication. After reading this article, you might find
the scenarios presented in "The Net" and in the "Fifth Column"
conspiracy theory a bit less far-fetched! This copy has been edited
to correct typographical errors and reformatted to remove repetitious
Web headings, but all original information is retained. -- NY Transfer]
from Net Magazine, Netherlands Sept 95
Date: 8 Sep 1995 11:59:14 GMT
Copyright; IDG Communications Nederland
Published in: Net, september 1995
"Never defend, Always attack"
Scientology Church silences opponents with searches, law suits,
intimidation and private detectives
by Jeroen Pietersma
There is almost a Holy War between the Internet community and the
Scientology Church. Authors rights and anonymous remailers are the chips
in this game, which does not limit itself to online bickering about
mysterious "Fishman-documents." Outside the net house searches, court
cases, intimidation and private detectives play a role. A shocking story
about the way Scientology silences its critics. Or as an employee of
Internet provider xs4all puts it: "Before you know it they hit you with
a court case. Scientology is a dangerous organisation."
What is it about?
In the usenet group alt.religion.scientolgy, the internet community has
acted against several aspects of what they call "Scientos." But doing
this they also post Scientology texts. These texts, which are
copyrighted, constitute a large part of the source of income of
Scientology. A number of these texts, known as Operating Thetan levels
(OT levels, a series of courses that members can follow after paying a
lot of money), have become public through ex-Scientology members, and can
easily be found on the Internet. The texts are distributed through
anonymous remailers, for fear of repraisal. An anonymous remailer is a
computer that strips email of name and address. In place of this comes a
number, for which the remailer can substitute the correct address if
someone wants to send a message to an anonymous mailer.
This story starts in August, when I receive the minutes of the founding
meeting of NLIP, an organisation of Dutch Internet providers. In it, as
an aside, there is mention of a possible lawsuit of Scientology against
xs4all, because the latter has an anonymous remailer through which
documents of "the church" are distributed. Before I call xs4all, I go
onto the WWW, and key "scientology" into the Webcrawler
(location:http://www.webcrawler.com). Within a few seconds, an
impressive list of hyperlinks appears. I turn onto the net and find in a
short time a wealth of information, mainly anti-scientology.
I read about Scientology, criminal practices, child pornography,
lawsuits, private detectives and murder and suicide. It is too much and
too complicated. I am looking for a list of FAQs. The
alt.religion.scientology Frequently Asked Questions I find on
It is an FAQ full of criticism of Scientology, with the message:
Scientology has never delivered proof of its teachings. The FAQ is
rather superficial (according to Scientology, a "collection of
untruths") but makes clear that something is rumbling on the net.
Back at Webcrawler I glide the mouse arrow over the hypertext links and
look at the URLs. I discover a Dutch homepage at
http://www.xs4all.nl/~fonss/. Click, and I'm on a page of FACTNet.
FACTNet (Fight Against Coercive Tactics Network Inc.), led by two
ex-Scientologists, is a non-profit electronic library with public
information about "dangerous sects such as Jonestown, Branch Davidians
(Waco) and Scientology." And Scientology doesn't like that, it appears
from information on and after the FACTNet page and on the homepage The
Church of Scientology against the Net at
http://www.cybercom.net/~rnewman/scientology/home.html. Earlier this
year, Scientology has threatened several times with a lawsuit if FACTNet
refuses to remove all information about Scientology. According to
FACTNet, the pressure of Scientology is increasing, and the organisation
names a series of examples of the financial battle to exhaustion that
Scientology has started. FACTNet doesn't think it can keep up the
battle, and calls on as many people as possible to download the
information to prevent an "electronic book burning." All text files
have been since the end of May in .ZIP format on an ftp site
(ftp://ftp.rmii.com/pub2/factnet/), and since April an unknown
[person] has put a "FACTNet Scientology WWW-kit" on the net, which
everyone can install on a homepage. The kit can be downloaded on
Talk to my lawyer
I want to contact people who criticise Scientology. It takes too long to
contact participants of the newsgroup and to wait for an answer. I start
an Internet Relay Chat program, and type the command "/join
#scientology." Bingo; it's a channel, there are people, but no word is
spoken. The command "/whois" combined with the names of channel mates
shows me that they are all on the IRC channel #clambake.
On #clambake there is conversation, and soon I'm addressed. Carefully,
because there is tension, and it looks as if no one trusts one another.
[Only] after half an hour of short exchanges with Jack (he doesn't want his
real name in this story) do I start to get clear information. Jack is
interested in freedom of speech, and read something in a newsgroup
about forged cancel messages in alt.religion.scientology, a way of
removing someone's articles from a newsgroup. In other words, censorship.
More about this later.
After having participated in alt.religion.scientology for a while, Jack
writes, he received email from scientology lawyer Helena K. Kobrin. Jack
sends me the electronic letter, and I read that Kobrin asserts that Jack
put Scientology documents on the net. Kobrin demands that he remove them
immediately (including from his hard drive and floppies) and report by
email that he has honoured her request. If not, legal steps will be
After searching for the email address of Kobrin in the Four11 White
Page Directory (location: http://www.Four11.com/), I mail her a list of
questions. Jack by then has taught me that the Scientology document
that it's all about (the so-called Fishman document) not only regularly
appears in the newsgroup, but can also be downloaded on several
FTP-sites. Scientology wants to tackle these sites too, but the Internet
community has found a way around that: someone has put a copy of the
Fishman document on a server in Beijing. Jack: "Let Kobrin try to
convince the Chinese to remove that document."
[An] interesting aspect of the Fishman document is that it is not a
Scientology document, but a public-domain court document that contains
Scientology texts. The complete piece [case CV-91-6426 HLH (Tx)] can be
obtained at less than forty dollars from the Federal Courthouse,
Central District of California. This is how: Steven Fishman,
ex-Scientologist, talks to Time Magazine in 1991 about fraudulent
activities that he engaged in, ordered to by Scientology. This I read in
a press statement by Fishman on http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Fishman.
Fishman's statements result in an article with the heading "The
lucrative worship of greed and power." Subtitle: "ruined lives,
lost fortunes, federal crimes." At
I read that the reporter had been repeatedly harassed after the
publication, and was watched by lawyers and six private detectives.
Finally, Scientology started slamming Time with daily ads in USA Today --
an action that is [said] to have cost 3 million dollars.
Fishman explains in a statement to the press that he got in psychological
trouble, and was ordered by Scientology to kill his psychiatrist.
(Scientology and psychology are as water and fire.) Later, he would be
ordered to commit suicide. Fishman attributes his psychological problems
to "mind control" techniques of Scientology. To prove this, he hands
over to the court the OT-levels, and these are entered in the archives.
This archived material is freely available, but Scientologists want to
prevent this. The court clerk related in the Washington Post of 19
August that a group of people, for over a year, has requested this
document every day the court opens and kept it the whole day long. A
Scientology official admits this in the paper.
Back to Fishman. He is sentenced for his crimes and goes to jail.
According to his press statement, prison guards prevent his
[being] murdered. In the locker of fellow prisoner Luis Martinez
they find a knife and Scientology documents. Martinez is a
Scientologist from Miami. He was lined up for extradition to Cuba,
and Scientology was to assist him legally if he would kill Fishman.
When Fishman is set free later, a civil trial follows. Together with
FACT, Fishman defends himself. Celebrities, who Scientology uses to
bolster their name, are called as witnesses. Subpoenas are served [on],
among others, Lisa Marie Presley (daughter of Elvis, wife of Michael
Jackson) and John Travolta. Subsequently, Scientology abandons the
trial. Author and Scientology adherent Tom Cruise was able to avoid
being subpoenaed by hiding in the toilet. (sidebar: Celebrities).
Scamzidat = swindle
Jack has a request: would I prove that I'm a reporter? He has become
nervous by the latest news in alt.religion.scientology: someone has
used a false name to request the registration of phone calls of one
Grady Ward from his phone company Pacific Bell. It is feared that
Scientologists will now bother him and his family.
An email from head editor Oscar Kneppers puts Jack at ease. From that
time, he and I exchange several email messages per day. Jack spends a
lot of his time on the matter of Scientology and the net. He reports
that more and more people are sending the Fishman document. Jack sends me
statistical data on alt.religion.scientology. In early August, 83.5%
of all bytes in the group consisted of Scientology documents.
Without too much trouble I find and download a large file, SCAMIZ9.ZIP.
Unpacked, this turns out to be called Scamizdat, and to be full of
Scientology texts. Scamizdat is a contraction of "scam" and "samizdat."
Scam is slang for swindle, and refers to the millions that Scientology
is making. Samizdat was a practice in the former Soviet Union: privately
printing and distributing literature that had been prohibited by the
Soviet regime. From an ftp site I download the Fishman document, and
find a joke from the net community, which is not only concerned about
Scientology, but can also see the humour of it all. The joke is a
cartoon in GIF-format; a photo of Kobrin on which a piece of text about
communicating with plants has been stuck. The text is from the
OT-levels. It reminds me to remind Kobrin of my questions, because
several days later I have not received an answer from her.
It is almost science fiction
Later I talk to an employee of xs4all, who speaks on condition of
anonymity, because "Scientology is a very dangerous organisation.
Before you know it, they hit you with a suit. That is one of their
standard procedures." He has let an "expert" investigate Scientology,
and says: "I don't call it a church, I call it a business. Their texts,
say, their bible--it is almost science fiction." He tells me that the
administrator of the anonymous remailer of xs4all received an email from
America earlier this year. The other day, a letter from a Dutch lawyer
came with the same message: "distributing Scientology documents via the
remailer has to stop or we will take legal action."
"This is a matter of principle to us," says the employee. "Remailers
have to have a chance; you cannot just shoot them down. Many people can
only communicate anonymously. For instance, people who are HIV positive
often cannot speak under their own name because of their job....It will
probably come to a court case, but we are not worried. The harder they
threaten us, the more belligerent the Internet users are getting. The
public discussion about censorship on the Internet by Scientology will
be very interesting. xs4all, just like other Internet users and
providers, has become a victim of the practices of Scientology.."
Johan "Julf" Helsingius knows all about it. He is administrator of the
Finnish remailer anon.penet.fi since 1992. Since 1995 his service has
registered 200,000 users, and every day 7,000 mail messages are passed
along automatically. [In] early February of this year, the Finnish police
show up at his house with a search warrant, because Scientology wants
to know the identity of a client. The same day, articles appear in
Swedish [newspapers] about child pornography that is [said] to have been
distributed via the anon.penet.fi remailer. Finnish papers take up
the story, and the remailer is looking bad. The articles in the papers
are based on research by Mats Wiklund of the University of Stockholm.
In a statement to the press,
(SEE: http://www.sky.net/~sloth/sci/sci_index.html) Julf questions the
research, because the remailer does not allow big files, hence photos.
Julf and the Internet community did their own investigation and
discovered that Wiklund's research was sloppy, and that the only photo
in his report was rather innocent, with children in a nudist camp.
Further investigation of Julf and fans even showed that the photos were
not sent through Finland, but from Great Britain, and that the origin
had been forged. At that point the internet community was starting to
wonder what were the motives of the Swedish researcher. The community
quickly suspected that sending the photos and the publicity around it
were a trick by Scientology, to make the remailer look bad.
After several emails and a phone call, Kobrin promises to answer my
questions. But something intervenes. On Saturday, August the 12th there
is a raid on the home of ex-Scientologist Arnoldo P. Lerma in Arlington,
Virginia. A total of 10 people ransack his home, because Lerma has
posted the Fishman document. Among the 10 are two armed officers, two
computer experts and Mrs. Kobrin. The computer, a scanner, several hard
disks, 400 floppies, and even the mouse and modem are confiscated. Arnie
alerts the Internet community via IRC.
Helena Kobrin states two days later in the New York Times: "If these
documents have left the church, it is because they are stolen." Lerma
stays calm in the New York Times: "This is the big secret at the end of
the rainbow, and you can get it from the court at 50 cents per page."
Besides, Arnie Lerma was already visited in November 1994 by Eugene
Ingram, a private detective for Scientology, as Ron Newman tells us on
his WWW-pagina's "The Church of Scientology vs. the Net." Grady Ward
(whose phone records have been taken) was also visited by Ingram. Not
long after, Ingram visited Ward's mother. She identified him from a
photo and the Tacocom Police department made a case out of it. Florida
seems to have an arrest warrant for Ingram, because he had been
impersonating a police officer. Ingram was removed from the Los Angeles
Police Department because he tipped off drug dealers about raids, and
because he had sidelined as a pimp. Pictures of and information about
Ingram and other Scientology-detectives are on
Sorry folks, party's over
After the raid on Lerma there is again commotion in
alt.religion.scientology, because the Fishman document has
disappeared from the Chinese server. "Sorry Folks, party's over" is
what it said in alt.religion.scientology. The reason: the [Chinese
site's] 64-Kbps connection could not cope with the large demand for the
Fishman document, and cyber-access for the whole of China was
endangered. But not long after there is cause for celebration in the
newsgroup: the Fishman document is now in Russia (location:
Around that time I received answers from Helena K. Kobrin. The lawyer,
who was supposed to be so busy, had chosen a strange way of
responding by email: instead of sending a "reply" (so that the questions
from my mail would automatically -- hence quickly -- be quoted in her
letter) she has re-keyed the questions and mutilated them. Terms like
"free flow of information" and "freedom of expression" have been scrapped.
And Kobrin writes immediately that I can not publish anything from the
public Fishman document: "If you publish this material, my client will
find it necessary to take appropriate legal action against you and your
publisher to protect his rights."
In her letter, Kobrin bandies the names of Netcom and Ehrlich and Fishman.
She calls Steven Fishman a "heavy criminal" and a "notorious liar who
invents all sorts of accusations against the church." When Jack reads
the remarks of Kobrin, he dismisses them as "dead agenting." He refers
me to the semi-official Scientology WWW-pages of the head of Public
Relations, Leisa Goodman (http://www.theta.com/goodman/).
On Goodman's web pages Kobrin has written a commentary on computer
crime -- which is ironic, as Kobrin herself is guilty of computer crime.
She sent a so-called remove-group message. This is a specially
formatted instruction to remove a whole newsgroup. This failed, because
Usenet administrators quickly sent a command to re-create the group.
Kobrin [neither] denies nor confirms this story in the replies she
sent to me, and only writes that she sent a request to the Usenet
system administrators. She closes her reply with, "My request is
no longer relevant, but the matter of copyright is."
Jack refers me to a letter that Kobrin sent, earlier this year, to
Internet World magazine, because the magazine had asked her for a
statement about the rm [remove] message. After a lot of idle talk about
copyright, Kobrin implicitly admits in that letter: "We do not intend to
pursue the "remove group" message if it is not a fitting method."
The xs4all employee states: "Erasing a message that is not yours is an
illegal act. The copyright of messages on the Internet lies with the
user. Only the user has the right to remove his message before this
happens automatically by the cancel-period on a news host."
Other Dutch Internet providers are behind xs4all, [including] the
providers that are with the organisation NLIP, as well as Planet
Internet. Editor-in-chief Michiel Frackers: "It now becomes clear what kind of
church this is. We are against cancel messages and censorship. Everyone
should be able to say what they want. But this kind of problem will
persist, with illegal software and child pornography. Btw, we don't
carry specific newsgroups that have child pornography."
Koos de Heer of Knoware: "As providers we should do no policing,
that is against the principle of a provider. We do have to make
sure not to be incapacitated by e-mail-bombardments, so we do
have an interest in our users sticking to netiquette. An anonymous
remailer is the same [as] anonymously sending a letter by mail. And
what is on a server somewhere is not owned by the provider but by
the user. If the post office has a package, the Mail is not
responsible for the contents either."
Helena Kobrin states in the New York Times of 14 August about the
Internet: "There are people who think that the Internet has created a
new medium where all rules will disappear, and that is not true. Things
go faster on the Internet, and we will keep up with them."
Just before the deadline I hear that the administrators of the anonymous
remailer on xs4all have moved the remailer. It is unclear whether legal
steps against xs4all will follow. Btw, anyone can start up a remailer.
And get in trouble if through this remailer Scientology-documents are
Ruin him completely
Scientology never liked critics, and according to FACTNet has rules for
coping with opponents. These rules are in the Fair Game Law which
according to FACTNet was installed by Scientology-founder L. Ron Hubbard
(sidebar L. Ron Hubbard & Scientology). In
http://www.xs4all.nl/~fonss/fact.txt it says: "(An enemy) may be
robbed of posessions or done injustice to, with all means by any
Scientologist, without any disciplinary action against the Scientologist
(...) can be deceived, subpoenaed, lied to or destroyed." And: "The
purpose of a suit is more to exhaust and discourage than to win. Never
defend. Always attack. (...) Start a discrediting PR campaign to destroy
a person's reputation, and to discredit him so thoroughly that he'll be
shunned. The law can easily be used to fatigue a person, and enough
fatigue (...) is usually enough to cause professional death (...) If
possible, ruin him completely."
Scott C. Goehring, a 26-year-old college student from Bloomington,
Indiana, created the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology in 1991,
as a forum to expose Scientology. His wife's first husband had been a
Scientologist. "On the net, the truth surfaces. The church can not
silence everyone. They can not subpoena all 100 million people who are
on the net." According to Goehring, three out of every hundred
participants are Scientologists, the rest are critics, and the newsgroup
has 14,000 occasional readers. Most participants call Scientology
consistently Co$ or Ch*rch.
Fishman freely availably via FTP
The FTP sites having the Fishman document are sites that allow ...
internetters to exchange documents. At press time of this article,
the Fishman document was downloadable from the locations below.
These sites change regularly to be one step ahead of Scientology.
The latest locations can be found on alt.religion.scientology.
Without the Internet, it would not have been possible to gather the
information for this story in a relatively short time. It would have
been a time-consuming and probably expensive story. Making contact with
an insider was fast, as were purposeful searches on the net. Within a
few days I had more than half of my information. Without the net I would
have had to browse through archives and libraries, and would have had to
request information from America, which can take weeks. Most of my
sources that I "talked" to I would never have been able to call on short
notice, because I would have absolutely no idea where to find the phone
number of that American ex-Scientologist. On the net finding a good
source is easy, and while I lay sleeping, the information was coming in.
Because the net works 24 hours per day.
L. Ron Hubbard
The originator of Scientology is LaFayette Ronald Hubbard (born 13 March 1911;
died 24 January 1986). Hubbard studied, according to his own PR-dept,
mechanical engineering, traveled a lot, and was philosopher, teacher,
sailor, artist, explorer, pilot, photographer, author, and more. An
"expert" did some research for xs4all into Scientology, and writes about
Hubbard: "About his youth there is little to say, since the data that he
provides about it are exaggerated and mostly hanging together from
lies." His second wife, Sarah Northrup, called him already in 1951, at
their divorce, "hopelessly mentally ill."
In May 1950, Hubbard published his best-known text, "Dianetics: an
introduction to a new science," in a science-fiction magazine. The whole
print run sold out immediately. Hubbard is said to have claimed in those
days: "If you want to be a millionaire, you have to start your own
religion." The book "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health,"
published shortly after, quickly reached sales of 150,000 copies and is
still sold by Scientology. After the publication of Dianetics,
Hubbard-led institutes open, and dianetics appears to be a golden
opportunity. Hubbard mostly gets the attention of young people, and soon
they are camping in his yard.
The celebrity followers of Hubbard are another story. The story goes
back to 1955, when L. Ron Hubbard ordered his followers to win celebrities
for the church. [Those] who succeeded received special training. This is
described in "The Scandal of Scientology," a book by Paulette Cooper.
Cooper writes about the so-called Celebrity Center in California, which
is to attract celebrities from Hollywood, according to Cooper, with the
purpose of attracting young people to Scientology. After publication of the
book, Scientology started Operation PC Freakout, a slander campaign
against Paulette Cooper, with the purpose [of] get[ting] her [put]
in jail or institutionalised. Scientology in the meantime owns, after
having paid a lot of money, the rights to the book.
Jack, too, has information about the stars. In an MTV-show ("New
Religions: The Cult Question," first broadcast in June 1995) that talked
about Scientology Tom Cruise, Kristie Alley, Julliette Lewis and John
Travolta appeared, singing songs of praise. John Travolta is
[said] to have stated: "I think this is the most important movement
on the planet."
In 1954, the Scientology Church is founded, and world wide branches
follow. Critics say Hubbard desired religious status to circumvent
paying taxes. According to the New York Times, Scientology has a paid
staff of 13,000 people. The number of members is unclear: Scientology
claims 8 million members, others say 50,000.
According to the anonymous expert, Scientology is basically ...
a mixture of religion, science fiction and mind-control.
In his book "Dianetics," Hubbard uses the term "auditing." Auditing
(listening to) is a modern variant of old-fashioned Christian
confession: make people pronounce their problems, secrets, fears, and
uncertainties, and make them dependent on you.
Scientology keeps its texts secret through copyright. Strange for a
church, which usually are all too eager to spread the faith. According
to Leisa Goodman this is to "keep the religious techniques orthodox."
About the faith, the expert reports that at auditings the so-called
E-meter is used, a lie detector developed by Hubbard himself.
To "clear" someone for 20,000 dollars
Scientologists are convinced that every human is under the influence of
Xenu, who 60 billion years ago released Thetans on earth. These Thetans
are in each of us, and cause "engrams." Scientology can erase [them] so
that someone becomes "clear." This takes some steps, and they cost
money. Initially little, but the higher one gets (the purpose is to
become Operating Thetan) the more one pays. The director of Scientology
International states in the Washington Post that members can pay up to
20,000 dollars for this. Critics estimate the amount as 300,000 dollars.
The clearing process can [be] long, because Scientologists are convinced
that there are also thetans from past lives in us. They also have to go.
Which costs money. Hubbard, by the way, was a strong believer in
reincarnation, and Scientologists say that at his death Hubbard dropped
his body, and will return
Scientology in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam) the
Scientology Church has a religious status, and there are several
branches throughout the country, among which is the LaFayette primary
school (in Amsterdam). In the '70s, a committee was created in the
Netherlands to investigate Scientology. According to the expert
mentioned earlier, it became apparent that there was a Scientologist
among the members, and through internal tensions and argument a final
report was never published. In the early '80s a number of Scientologists
were arrested by the police, when at a traffic check they turned out to
posess stolen papers from the archives of the National Centre for Mental
Health in Utrecht.
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