Sunday, September 23, 2007

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES Goes Inside Scientology

Inside Scientology
Aired May 14, 2007 - 22:00 ET


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Up next on 360: our in-depth look at Scientology.


COOPER (voice-over): He started out investigating Scientologists. He says the Scientologists ended up investigating him.

TOMMY DAVIS, SPOKESMAN, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY: I would just like to -- and -- and I hope somebody is shooting this. OK. Good.

JOHN SWEENEY, BBC REPORTER: Rather, there's actually -- to be fair, there's...

TOMMY DAVIS: There's...

(CROSSTALK) SWEENEY: ... there's one camera from the BBC and one camera from your...


COOPER: What this reporter says he found out about how Scientology operates and how it really got under his skin.

SWEENEY: You were not there at the beginning of that interview! You were not there!

COOPER: Ahead on 360.




DAVIS: For you to repeatedly refer to my faith in those terms is so derogatory, so offensive and so bigoted. And the reason you keep repeating it is because you wanted to get a reaction like you're getting right now. Well, buddy, you got it, right here, right now. I'm angry, real angry.


COOPER: That was Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis during an interview with John Sweeney.

Davis may have been angry, but the real fireworks, a full-fledged meltdown, actually came later in the interview. And it was the reporter, not the Scientologist, who blew a fuse. Now he's become a big part of the story, something reporters are never supposed to do.

Here's how it all began with CNN's Randi Kaye.





DAVIS: You listen to me for a second.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What you're about to see is a reporter crack. John Sweeney had been investigating the Church of Scientology for the BBC. He says he was chased by sinister strangers and spied on at his own wedding.

Just before he lost it, Sweeney attended an Industry of Death exhibition. Members of the church showed disturbing video and blamed the Holocaust on psychiatry. SWEENEY: No, Tommy, you...

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime!

SWEENEY: No. Listen to me! You were not there at the beginning of that interview!

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime! It's a crime!

KAYE: Sweeney's documentary "Scientology and Me" included the clips of his shouting match with Scientologist Tom Davis.

SWEENEY: Do you understand?

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime against humanity.

SWEENEY: Do you understand?

KAYE: Clips of Sweeney's meltdown were posted on YouTube. Sweeney did not want to be interviewed tonight, but released a statement on the BBC's Web site: "Scientology has prepared an attack video. Scientologists are expected to release 100,000 copies of it. Why?"

BRUCE HINES, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: To try to get him to back off and possibly to get the BBC to back off. And, secondly, it's just to discredit the individual John Sweeney. He's the one doing this documentary on Scientology. And, if they can show that he is not credible, they will do that.

KAYE: Former Scientologist Bruce Hines, who left the church after 30 years, says it's common practice for Scientologists to keep their on cameras rolling on reporters.

MIKE RINDER, DIRECTOR, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL: John Sweeney would have denied that anything that he had done happened. That would have all ended up on the cutting room floor. Nobody would have ever seen it.

DAVIS: I would just like to -- and -- and I hope somebody is shooting this. OK. Good.

SWEENEY: Rather, there's actually -- to be fair, there's...

DAVIS: There's...


SWEENEY: ... there's one camera from the BBC and one camera from your...


DAVIS: No, you listen to me for a second. You have...

SWEENEY: Some people say it's a cult. DAVIS: ... no right whatsoever to say what and what isn't a religion. The Constitution of the United States of America guarantees one's right to practice and believe freely in this country. And the definition of religion is very clear. And it's not defined by John Sweeney.

KAYE: Here, Sweeney had just suggested to Davis, critics believe Scientology is a cult.

SWEENEY: Now, my friend, it is your turn to listen to...


DAVIS: Goodbye.

SWEENEY: No. It is your turn to listen to me.

I'm a British subject, not an American citizen. And, in my country, we have a freedom of speech.

KAYE (on camera): In his documentary, Sweeney apologizes for losing control. He says he was wrong, that he let him team down, lost his voice, but not his mind.

In a separate video being shown on YouTube, he apologized to Tom Davis and the Church of Scientology.

SWEENEY: You were interrupting me or preventing me from saying my points.


DAVIS: You interrupted me first. But that's immaterial.

SWEENEY: And I wanted to demonstrate to you that, actually, my voice is louder than yours. But I did it in a way which I -- I regret. And I apologize to the Church of Scientology.


KAYE (voice-over): None of this surprises former Scientologist Bruce Hines, who says specific steps are taken to respond to reporters.

HINES: These give quite a lot of information about what to do about what they call black propaganda. And black propaganda, in their view, is any sort of negative -- negative publicity.

KAYE: Negative publicity is nothing new for the Church of Scientology. But, this time, it may have successfully turned the tables, exposing a journalist, a critic, at his worst, faster than he could apologize.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, the BBC reporter, John Sweeney, says the church is doing what it always does, playing hardball with journalists who try to investigate the organization.

Mike Rinder is director of the Church of Scientology International. He sees it differently.

In a CNN exclusive interview, I talked with him earlier.


COOPER: Mike, I want to play a clip from this documentary, the reporter John Sweeney clearly losing his cool while talking with a Scientologist official. Let's take a look at that.


DAVIS: No, I'm not stopping here.


DAVIS: You listen to me for a second. You're accusing my members of my religion of engaging in brainwashing.

SWEENEY: No, Tommy, you...


DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime!

SWEENEY: No. Listen to me!

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime! It's a crime!

SWEENEY: You were not there at the beginning of that interview!

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime.

SWEENEY: You were not there!

DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime.

SWEENEY: You did not hear or record all of the interview! Do you understand?


DAVIS: Brainwashing is a crime against humanity.

SWEENEY: Do you understand? You are quoting the second half of the interview, not the first half!

DAVIS: You are accusing my organization of engaging in a crime.


SWEENEY: You cannot assert what you're saying. Now, you listen to me.


COOPER: He's apologized. He said, clearly, that was not his finest moment. The clip was released on YouTube. Some say that the church was behind the release of it to try to discredit this reporter in advance of his critical report on Scientology.

To your knowledge, did the church release it?

RINDER: No, Anderson. I mean, I'm not sure how that got on to YouTube. There were copies of that clip that were around.

I had sent various copies to the BBC, in fact, when I came over here to see them about the -- the behavior of John Sweeney in putting together this program. So, I'm not really sure how it ended up...


COOPER: You distributed 100,000 DVDs containing that clip, though. Why did you do that?

RINDER: We did it because we documented what happened in the whole series of events that had led up to John Sweeney doing this program.

When he first contacted us, Anderson, he asked us and said he would like to do an update program on Scientology, a 20-year update. In fact, Panorama had done a program 20 years ago that was based on a lawsuit at that time that was thrown out, with a judge who said that it was the most egregious violation of court orders he had ever seen. And that program got things totally wrong.

Panorama came back and said, we would like to do another program.

We said, sure.

We -- look, we understand that there's a lot of people that don't understand what Scientology is, and have misunderstandings. And we recognize we have a responsibility to make the information available. So, we told him, look, we will open our doors to you. You can have very, very broad access.

You can see anything you want. We will take you around to all our buildings. We will give you broad access. He refused that access. In fact, he went to Clearwater, where our spiritual headquarter is. And we have a huge facility there. And he didn't set foot inside the church, even though we were there to offer to take him in and open the doors for him and introduce him to people, et cetera.

At that point, we realized that we had a reporter on our hands who was not interested in really telling the story about what Scientology is, but he had a preconceived idea. He wanted to do a story that Scientology has closed doors. That wasn't the case at all.

We were there, waiting to let him in, waiting to make everything available to him. And he absolutely refused.


RINDER: So, at that point, we decided we will document what happens.

And we have now produced a DVD, which we are distributing, which shows what goes on behind the scenes in a program that's put together by someone like John Sweeney.

COOPER: What did end up in this program, though, is that this reporter clearly shows multiple people following him in cars and on foot.

He says those are members of the Church of Scientology or people affiliated with the church. It does seem kind of ominous and creepy.

Do you have people who follow reporters? I mean, were those people in -- in the documentary in the cars -- and there was a gentleman who repeatedly showed up every day while he was eating breakfast and at his hotel. Were they people following him?

RINDER: No, they weren't, Anderson. I mean, he's got a shot in that program that aired tonight...

COOPER: So, you don't have people following anybody?

RINDER: No, we don't.

COOPER: If a reporter is doing a story on you -- you -- you didn't send anybody out to follow this man?

RINDER: No. No, we did not, Anderson.

In fact, it was very -- we were very up front with him. We said, we're going to have our cameras here. We're going to take footage of you putting together this program.

COOPER: Who were...

RINDER: That was it.

COOPER: Who do you think those people were, though, who were following him? I mean, clearly, it seemed like -- I mean, if he's telling the truth, people were following him.

RINDER: I don't think he was telling the truth, Anderson.

I think that that was someone who was in a car in Los Angeles. I'm surprised that he and a cameraman could get out and pull up to a car in a stop sign or a stoplight in Los Angeles, and try and shoot inside a car.

He's lucky -- if he was -- it was in some areas of Los Angeles, he's lucky that he got away with his life.


COOPER: Well, coming up: another view from a former Scientologist who left the church after more than 20 years. Also, we will go in search of a sacred vault from the air -- when 360 continues.

And we will have more of our interview with Mr. Rinder.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't me. You were not there at the beginning of the interview! You were not there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brain (ph), what's a crime?


COOPER: We pick up now where we left off before the break, the latest controversy to hit the Church of Scientology. A BBC reporter -- you just saw him there -- losing his cool during an interview while the church's cameras were rolling.

The tape showing his melt-down ended up on YouTube. And now the reporter's accusing Scientology of playing hardball to try to discredit him to his investigation of the church will come under suspicion. The BBC reporter says he was followed as part of a church campaign against him.

That's where we pick up my interview with Mike Rinder, director of the Church of Scientology International.


COOPER: It is well known, though, that certainly, in the journalism community, that if you do a story on the Church of Scientology, you are going to be hearing from attorneys, that you -- the church has a reputation of being very aggressive in going after or in protecting their public relations. Is that fair? Is that true?

RINDER: I don't think that's a fair statement, Anderson. I think that what happens is that there are stories that get circulated or that there are people who are the bad eggs in the -- bad egg reporters like John Sweeney, and that, then, becomes blown up.

Certainly, when someone shows up and he refuses access, and he is abusive and offensive to the people that he interviews, we're not just going to stand around and take it.

We, that's why we took the footage of him, so that we would have it documented, because I know what would have happened, Anderson. If we had not taken that footage, John Sweeney would have denied that anything that he had done happened. That would have all ended up on the cutting room floor. Nobody would have ever seen it. COOPER: "The L.A. Times" cites the church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard's, "Manual of Justice", as saying, and I quote, "The purpose of the lawsuit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace. Don't ever defend. Always attack."

A, is that an accurate quote? And if so, it does seem to imply a certain aggression and -- or willingness to litigate.

RINDER: Well, first of all, that is an accurate quote. It is taken out of context. It is not saying anything about you must litigate. It's talking about the subject of litigation as a subject.

But we're not suing the media. We're not -- we're not sitting here saying that we're going to be suing or doing anything of the sort. We documented what happened, so people can see for themselves and make up their own mind. That's the purpose of doing that video.

COOPER: According to a 1991 "TIME" magazine article, quote -- and I'm quoting from the article, "Eleven top scientologists including Hubbard's wife, were sent to prison in the early 1980s for infiltrating, burglarizing, wiretapping more than 100 private and government agencies in attempts to block their investigations."

A, is that true? And, B -- well, is that true? Because I mean, the critics of your organization say that you guys have a history of this, that whether this John Sweeney was a bad reporter or not, this is part of a pattern, that "TIME" magazine article certainly intimating that.

RINDER: Anderson, the history of the church is a long history of the church. And certainly, there are things that have happened. Those people that were involved in those activities back then, they were thrown out by the church. They were dismissed from the church. That's ancient history.

COOPER: That "TIME" magazine article, in 1991, which was a cover story, the writer of that article says, even in the course of his writing and his assignment, that he was -- he said illegally investigated by affiliates of the Church of Scientology. He was contacted numerous times by attorneys.

And, in fact, "TIME" magazine, Time Warner, the parent company, which also owns CNN, was sued. And the case was finally thrown out at multiple levels. I think it went up until 1997 or 1998.

So I just want to again ask you, isn't the church very aggressive in litigating, still, to this day?

RINDER: No, that's absolutely not the case, Anderson. You're talking about something in 1991. We're in 2007.

COOPER: But the lawsuit went up, I think, until 1998.

RINDER: That was the appeals. COOPER: All of which were thrown out.

RINDER: That's the appeals, Anderson. Yes. Ultimately -- ultimately, that's correct. But you're talking about something in 1991. We're in 2007. We are seeking to move forward.

COOPER: Mike, we appreciate your perspective and appreciate you coming on the program again. Thank you very much.

RINDER: OK, Anderson, thank you.


COOPER: Coming up a former scientologist insider speaks out. We'll hear from him shortly.

Plus, a look at a scientology center that some says aerial markings for future alien contact. A mystery about what it really means. We'll try to find out.

Also tonight, a toddler, a gun and a gun license? How did that happen? What were they thinking, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Tomorrow on 360, we're going to take you inside Africa. It's a continent often ignored and misunderstood, a place of hardship and hope. I sat down with CNN's Jeff Koinange, who covers Africa for us. It's an in-depth look at a continent we cover too infrequently.

This is information we think the world needs to know. Here's part of our talk.


COOPER: Even in South Africa, a very well-developed country, many government officials there claim HIV does not result in AIDS, that these deaths are not being caused by HIV infection.

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And what it does, especially in the less educated areas of South Africa, what it does is people think, "Wow, the officials say we can't get AIDS. Or AIDS -- HIV doesn't cause AIDS." So they go about doing what it is they do, and the numbers blow up.

So, it starts at the top. If the top cannot address this issue or acknowledge, then it all filters down. And that's why you have that situation in South Africa, one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS on the continent.


COOPER: We'll have more from CNN's Jeff Koinange tomorrow night. Don't miss "Africa: Dispatches from the Edge", a 360 special.

We're looking at scientology tonight. It isn't the first time the controversial church has been in the news on or on our broadcast.

In the fall of 2005, two gigantic circles etched into the desert in New Mexico made headlines. The markings looked like crop circles and led straight to the Church of Scientology.

CNN's Gary Tuchman investigated, but the church in this story didn't cooperate.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The land is rugged on the south end of the Rocky Mountain range. A panoramic view of northeastern New Mexico under clear skies, which makes it easier to see an unusual sight.

(on camera) This is it.

(voice-over) Two huge interlocking circles, markings on the desert soil that cannot be seen from the ground but can be seen from the heavens.

MICHAEL PATTINSON, FORMER SCIENTOLOGY MEMBER: I think they're not designed to be seen by human beings but by alien beings.

TUCHMAN: Michael Pattinson says he was a member of the Church of Scientology for 23 years. Now he's a disgruntled ex-member who says the circles are sign posts for reincarnated scientologists who come from outer space.

PATTINSON: They are markings to show the location of one of the vaults which scientology has prepared to safeguard the technology of L. Ron Hubbard.

TUCHMAN: Hubbard, who died in 1986, was a science fiction writer who started the Church of Scientology.

And indeed, next to the circles on the private runway is a building with a vault built into the mountain. Current scientologists do say archives are held in the vaults, just as other religions safeguard their sacred texts. They say the vault is overseen by a scientology corporation called the Church of Spiritual Technology.

(on camera) Church of Scientology officials denied CNN's request for a tour of the compound. They say the markings are simply a logo for the Church of Spiritual Technology and that this is a non-story.

But from what we've experienced, church officials are extremely sensitive about this non-story.

(voice-over) A pilot we hired to fly us over the compound backed out, saying he got a call from scientologists asking him not to go with us. Other pilots would not fly us, because they didn't want to make the scientologists angry. But we did finally get a pilot.

(on camera) What do the circles look like to you from here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They look like a branding symbol a rancher might have put out there.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The closest town to the desert etchings is Las Vegas, New Mexico. The county sheriff there is one of few non- scientologists who have visited the compound. Chris Najar did so just last month for the first time.

SHERIFF CHRIS NAJAR, SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, NEW MEXICO: Every time an incident happened, for instance, Waco, or the World Trade Center incident, every time something like this happens, there seems to be rumblings that it's a training ground for militia or a terrorist training ground, that kind of thing. So they have been inviting me out there so we can go out and try to dispel those rumors.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Have you dispelled those rumors?

NAJAR: Well, we went out there. I didn't see anything of the sort.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The sheriff says the scientologists told him this is where L. Ron Hubbard writings, saved on titanium plates, will be preserved for thousands of years. He says many people were there, lots of farm animals and a large cache of food supplies.

(on camera) Did it strike you as a place for survivalists?

NAJAR: Quite possibly. I definitely want to go there if it hits the fan.

TUCHMAN: If it hits the fan.

(voice-over) the sheriff says the notion of spacecraft returning was not discussed with him, but former members say that's part of scientology teachings.

PATTINSON: I know it sounds very, very bizarre, but this is where reality is stranger than fiction.

TUCHMAN: So are the circles a landing pad for extraterrestrial vehicles? The church is not commenting to us.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Las Vegas, New Mexico.


COOPER: Well, up next, you heard from a scientologist spokesman. We'll hear from another former scientologist, who was a member for 30 years. What does he think of the new video of the BBC reporter yelling at a Church of Scientology representative? And about the church's methods in dealing with critics.

Plus, tonight, a bizarre story. A gun-toting 10-month-old, not exactly. He's been issued a permit. What were they thinking, when 360 continues.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not stopping here. You listen to me for a second. You're accusing members of my religion of engaging in brainwashing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, shut up. No, listen to me!


COOPER: John Sweeney, reporter with the BBC, on the right, losing his cool with a scientology official.

The church is back in the news because of, well, really, this video showing a BBC reporter fighting with a scientologist, or arguing. The reporter, who was making a documentary about scientology, says the church is playing hardball.

Church officials say they are not.

Bruce Hines was a scientologist for more than 30 years. He reached the church's upper level before leaving. He joins me now.

Bruce, first of all, we just had on Mike Rinder, a spokesman for Scientology International, who said that the church is trying to become more open, trying to give more access to reporters, that maybe there was secrecy in the past, but increasingly, they're being open and honest. Do you think that's true?

BRUCE HINES, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: That may be. They still are going to try to control any negative publicity that they -- that some reporter might do. But it could be that they're trying to show certain aspects of the church.

COOPER: There are some who accuse the church of trying to intimidate and discredit people, in particular, reporters, famously this "TIME" magazine reporter back in 1991 said that, after he wrote an article, a cover story, there was various investigations done on him.

Sweeney say his was followed. The Church of Scientology says, pointblank, they didn't follow John Sweeney. Do you believe they follow people?

HINES: I definitely think they do. And with due respect to Mr. Rinder, I don't think he was being truthful about that. I know they do hire private investigators, and I know that they do follow people.

COOPER: You say you know that. How?

HINES: When I worked in the church, I had dealings with certain people within the Office of Special Affairs, and Mike Rinder was the head of that. I assume he still is. And they have a legal branch. They have a public relations branch, and they have an intelligence branch. And that's part of the activities that they would do.

COOPER: I mean, not many churches have intelligence branches. I can understand a legal branch, certainly. Why -- what did the intelligence branch do and why would they follow somebody?

HINES: It's all part of the long standing policy that anyone who is critical or attacks the Church of Scientology, they should be attacked back. And that is very clearly, you can read policies from the 1970s, from the 1960s. Anyone who is critical, they have to be discredited or stopped in some way.

COOPER: Why is there secrecy? I mean, I understand you know they have this mythology, I guess, the creation myth, which all religions have. And I guess it involves space aliens or Zenu, and I don't want to -- I don't really know, so I don't want to denigrate it by sort of inaccurately describing it.

But I can understand them wanting to keep that secret because some religions do that. But why is there this secrecy surrounding so much of scientology?

HINES: Well, on the one hand you say there are these upper level scriptures they want to keep secret.

But on the other hand, they do have a covert operations department, and this, the purpose of that is to get information and to plan activities against people who they perceive as enemies.

They feel that their religion, their practice, is the only thing that's going to save the world. And this is laid out in policy by L. Ron Hubbard, and the people like Mike Rinder and Tommy Davis, they feel they're doing the right thing by following these policies.

So anyone they see who could be -- they perceive that could stop their mission, they have to be gotten out of the way, intimidated, anything. There's one policy from about, I think it was the late '50s, I'm not sure, but it's -- referring to a critic or an attacker, Mr. Hubbard said, "If possible, ruin him utterly." And the "ruin him utterly" are Mr. Hubbard's words.

COOPER: You think that is still very much a practice or a belief in the organization?

HINES: Yes, I do, because...

COOPER: You...

HINES: Go ahead.

COOPER: Sorry. You were one of the top managers in the C organization, which I guess would be the upper reaches of scientology. Allegedly, you trained some celebrities like Kirstie Alley, Nicole Kidman.

What is the appeal of Scientology? What was the appeal to you when you were in it? I mean, what good did it do in your life? Because clearly, you stayed in it an awfully long time. It must have had positive benefits for you. And then why did you decide to leave?

HINES: Well, it's interesting. I've asked myself that question many times. When you first encounter scientology, you're presented with certain things. And there are some simple courses. And they make sense. For the most part.

And then, I found myself sort of getting more and more involved and, for some inexplicable reason, and I now consider it some form of mind control, I just took on their mind-set.

And I -- five years ago, I would have -- if I'd seen John Sweeney, I would have thought, you know, this man just is doing some horrible thing, and he has to be gotten out of the way. Now, I think he has every right to report on, you know, as he sees it. He's a journalist.

I left because originally I disagreed with some of the changes that had taken place. These were of a technical nature.

After I left -- because the whole time I was in, I was totally sheltered from the Internet, from television. I didn't get any of the stories, the sort of the negative stories about scientology. And so I've learned more and more as time has bond gone on. And it's been a process for me of kind of unraveling this sort of stuck thinking that I had.

COOPER: Bruce, it's an interesting thing. And I'd like to talk to you more about it at another time. Appreciate you being on the program. Bruce Hines, thank you very much.

HINES: My pleasure. Thank you.


Many thanks to Cooper Anderson, Bruce Hines, Michael Pattinson & John Sweeney.

I hope the rumors are true, that Mike Rinder left Scientology. It's never too late for a man to redeem himself in the eyes of God. Scientology does not forgive but God does.
~ Mary McConnell
Out_Of_The_Dark & FormerlyFooled

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