Church of Scientology: '"Anonymous' will be stopped"
Monday, February 4, 2008
Claiming that "actions are being taken", a person replying to emails to the Church of Scientology has responded exclusively to Wikinews regarding the recent attacks on their web sites from the nebulous "Anonymous" group. In an effort to get the Church's side of the story, Wikinews freelance journalist Brian McNeil located a contact address, firstname.lastname@example.org. A "Laetitia" responded, ignoring a detailed list of questions that would have given information on the damage inflicted on the Church and action taken. Instead non-specific comments about how the Church is handling the issue were given. She first started by asking if Wikinews was "part of Anonymous or are you pro-Scientology?"
"Activities of Anonymous have been reported to the Authorities and actions are being taken. Their activities are illegal and we do not approve of them. At the same time, our main work is to improve the environment, make people more able and spiritually aware. ... yes, we are taking action," said Laetitia.
'Anonymous' first came to public attention when the group launched denial-of-service attacks against the Church's website, following the Church's attempts to remove a promotional video featuring Scientologist Tom Cruise from YouTube. Although YouTube is complying with the requests to remove the video, other sites such as Gawker.com have stated that they will continue hosting the video.
Fielding expert opinions on the Church's response, Wikinews turned to Andreas Heldal-Lund, the creator of the Operation Clambake project, as well as a former Scientologist who wished to remain anonymous.
"I believe strongly in freedom of speech and, living in the best country in the world, I came to the conclusion that I had to help protest this cult. To me CoS [Church of Scientology] was then, and still is, a fascistic organization and a real threat to our democratic principles," said Andreas Heldal-Lund, the creator of Operation Clambake.
"The strategy was to disarm the cult; if they took down something I linked to, I had made preparations to link to another copy or host it myself. The more they resisted it the more attention we got, the more the information was spread and the more people got involved. It felt like a cat and mouse game for many years. What for me started as a weekend stunt grew far beyond my initial scope and Operation Clambake became the site most critics linked and referred to," added Heldal-Lund.
Heldal-Lund states that the effort of the Church to remove criticism of its organization from the web is failing.
"The cult 'Orgs' are 'dead'. Recruiting in most western countries where they once experienced a healthy organic growth is very hard. All their most secret documents are spread beyond recall and easily available for anybody interested. More people than we ever dreamed now know about Scientology and at least that it 'smells fishy'. All the information we once fought day and night to protect is now easily available for free and on the top of Google. The cult has even given up threatening us," added Heldal-Lund who also said that there are "no major lawsuits ongoing or pending" against Operation Clambake.
"We are taking action, Anonymous will be handled and stopped, but not to the detriment of us stopping all community outreach activities. We've had people throw attacks at us in the past as they do not agree with the betterment of people. History is strewn with such people who start wars, wreak havoc etc. and they never continue to exist in the long run as their purpose is one of destruction. That's a statistical and historical fact," stated Laetitia.
Laetitia had earlier stated that Wikinews was not allowed to use the quotes that they provided saying they, "have a problem with [Wikinews] quoting this. You are writing on a help website and it isn't the right source for the "Scientology opinion," but later acknowledged that the inquiries were of a press nature stating, "you have made it clear [that you are a journalist] and I appreciate you being upfront on the matter."
An expert evaluation on the e-mails by a former Church member and expert on the religion reveals that Laetitia may have slipped, providing information that she may not have been authorized to provide.
"The person you were speaking to was from the 'Planetary Dissemination Org' (PDO), a unit within the Sea Org responsible for promoting Scientology to new recruits which is responsible for Scientology’s websites. Most probably, the person that you were talking to did not have permission to talk to the press, which is why the person got edgy when publication was talked about. Judging by the way she responded, I am of the opinion that she felt that Wikinews was 'PTS' [Potential Trouble Source] as a result of being connected to whoever Scientology believes 'Anonymous' is, thus was attempting to handle Wikinews’ suppressive tendencies that they believe would occur as a result. It is also interesting to note that she followed a Scientology training document entitled 'BTB 10 DEC 1969 REPORTER TRs'," said the expert who wishes to remain totally anonymous.
"'Then using different questions, the PRO [Public Relations Officer] gives 'no answers'. The trick is to appear to answer the question by giving generalized statements in simple terms so that the reporter doesn't realize his question hasn't been answered'. Aside from being an obvious filibuster, it also shows she has been trained to deal with reporters," added the expert who also said that the question the Church asked Wikinews: 'Are you part of Anonymous or are you pro-Scientology', "I find this particularly interesting as an example of Scientological for-or-against logic. In other words, if you aren't pro-Scientology, the writer reasoned, you must be a member of Anonymous because you wouldn't be writing to her."
As the war between the Internet and Scientology rages on, the owner of 711chan.org says that he is prepared to "re-enter the CoS scene", and respond to The Regime, a hacker group which attempted to shut down 711chan using keylogging to gain an administrator password to 711chan. Prior to the site coming back online this morning, Plasma, the owner and operator of 711chan.org, had this to say;
"The g00ns, one of our allies, are working on getting "The Regime" and told us to get right back into the CoS scene -- which means as soon as 711chan is back online, we will be re-entering raid mode." Also, despite earlier claims and suspicions that The Regime might have been hired by or be part of the Church of Scientology, Plasma told Wikinews that The Regime "are not part of the Church. g00ns [organization] have a long history with 'immortal', and what 'immortal' is trying to do is get at g00ns by using 711chan. It's nothing against us."
The website came back online this morning, and already over 18,000 posts have been made on its functioning imageboards. The owners have, via a message posted on the homepage of the site, promised to restore the other boards in the coming weeks dependent on which boards the users would like to see revived. One Anonymous user of the site had this to say about the revival, "711 is patched up and ready to take it's place among the Legion."
Worldwide protests have been scheduled by 'Anonymous' to take place against the Church on February 10, 2008. There are expected to be at least 217 protests taking place on the 10th at Church headquarters around the globe.
In a poll conducted by Wikinews on 816 internet news readers, 80% (660) said that The Internet will win the war against Scientology. 7% (63) said that the Church would win. 8% (66) said neither side will win and 3% (27) didn't care.
- ""Anonymous" plans to protest Church of Scientology on February 10" — Wikinews, January 29, 2008
- "711chan.org administrator calls for an end to attacks on Scientology" — Wikinews, January 28, 2007
- "'The Regime' hacks 711chan.org in response to 'Anonymous' attack on Scientology; takes web site off line" — Wikinews, January 27, 2007
- ""Anonymous" releases statements outlining "War on Scientology"" — Wikinews, January 23, 2007
- "Hackers attack Church of Scientology website" — Wikinews, January 20, 2007
- "Tom Cruise Scientology promotional video leaked to the Internet" — Wikinews, January 17, 2007
- "Anonymous". "711chan homepage" — , February 4, 2008
- "Anonymous". "Project Chanology/Target IRL/Scheduled Protests and Raids" — , February 3, 2008