Addition to Chapter 17
Orwellian Int Base Operations
Continuing from print pg. 165
GOLD’S TEAM SHARE CARD SYSTEM
THE “TEAM SHARE SYSTEM” separated Gold crew from the rest of the Int base staff, and debased Gold crew. According to the LRH advices, Gold crew were to operate on a system of privileges. A staff member starts out with a star pin, worn on one’s shirt pocket, to show that s/he holds all five cards: Social, Bonus, Allowance, Chow, and Berthing, in that sequence of award and removal. A Social card afforded the privilege of participating in the Friday night base event, such as a movie or a base outing, or getting a day off on Sunday when the leadership decided we could have liberty. Bonus cards meant nothing, since we rarely received a bonus; although per the LRH advices for Gold we were supposed to get bonuses for high sales. Allowance cards afforded us the privilege of getting our $45 per week. We didn’t receive “pay.” Chow, of course, meant that we could eat a full meal in the staff dining room. No chow card meant we could eat rice and beans, or buy food in the canteen. A berthing card meant we could sleep in our living quarters and keep our clothes in the closet there. Without a berthing card, staff slept in their office on the floor and showered in the garage.
I would lose a card if my production statistics were down from one week to the next; two cards pulled if stats were down two weeks in a row, etc. A card could also be pulled by my senior if I messed up in some other way, i.e. if I backflashed to my senior, caused a flap, etc. To get a card back, I would have to either increase my production statistics, or make up for the damage if I lost a card for reasons other than post work. In the Cine division, it was typical for the shoot crew to have lost so many cards that staff would sleep on the floors under their desks or in some hidden spot. I remember asking Maureen Bolstad, after she lost her 5th card for berthing, what she was going to do. She did what many staff did—sleep under their desks, or find some place with a sofa where they could crash for the night.
I found this card system so humiliating that keeping my stats up became more important that anything else, like relationships with others, or enjoying time off. I started to become apathetic about keeping all five cards because having a Social card afforded nothing. Rarely were Gold crew allowed to have a day off regardless of whether one’s personal work was good; we would often be held responsible for someone’s mess-ups elsewhere in Gold. For example, when the tapes manufacturing lines were not producing high enough, we would have to work after post-time on all hands to produce more tapes. Or do things like remove labels from old tapes that we could reuse, or chain boxes of products from one floor of Building 36 to another. This was “our” Scientology, like a communistic group, so our responsibility levels reached across points far beyond our own posts.
I believed that Gold crew should be privy to human basics and rights, and not have these basic functions looked at as “privileges.” This system actually caused conflict for me and many Gold crew, through forced compliance behavior. We were given rewards or the absence of discipline for doing and saying only what our leadership wanted from us, versus doing or saying what we agreed with, or thought was right.
TRAINING AND AUDITING INT BASE STAFF
I remember helping to construct a building facing Highway 79 that beheld what looks like a traditional church steeple with a Scientology cross on top. This “Qual” building, short for Qualifications, holds the division that trains and audits staff members, and corrects erring staff on how to apply Scientology. The prior Qual building was a sorry place for staff enhancement, so the new Qual was constructed mostly on the backs of free RPF labor, mine included. I helped insulate the walls on two-story scaffolding, mudded and sanded drywall, and helped install the blue ceramic roofing tiles. There is no sanctuary or chapel in Qual to worship God or any other deity. It holds the rooms where staff engage in exploration of life and thought, with emphasis on self. There are several classrooms, a film room, auditing rooms, correction rooms, bathrooms, administrative offices, and two libraries.
Ken Hoden, the Gold Port Captain (public relations man), told me that we put a cross on top of the steeple so the local people of Hemet and the surrounding areas would think of us as a church. The cross is the eight-pointed Scientology cross (eight points = eight dynamics) that I discovered in my post-Scientology years looks extremely similar to a cross used by British occultist Aleister Crowley, who called himself the antichrist. The photo of that steeple is used in many Scientology brochures that give Scientology a religious image while it belies what actually goes on in there.
Qual also oversees the Rehabilitation Project Force program, Scientology’s prison camp. The RPF is supposed to give the erring Sea Org member an opportunity to redeem himself/herself from being a liability to the Sea Org and become an ethical, effective member of the group again. Scientology’s highly legalistic system designed by Hubbard dictates that a Sea Org member’s transgressions are determined not by God or the laws of the land, but by Hubbard’s standards described in extensive policies and rules.
In Qual during our 2 1/2 hours of study time five days per week (Hubbard’s policy for staff study), we studied only Scientology materials, apart from certain technical materials needed to do our jobs. Of course, study time only happened when seniors would allow it, despite the fact that LRH policy required all staff to study daily. I remember a sign on the wall of Qual quoting Hubbard, that no man had a monopoly on knowledge and that knowledge was to be shared with all people. I often thought, how contradictory that was to real life—we thought of Scientology as having a monopoly on spiritual/mental health, and our entire organization was set up to run as a monopoly. And we made people pay dearly to receive Scientology. This doublethink is an example of how we were surrounded with statements holding an apparent meaning that camouflaged a contradictory truth.
After we finished a course or an auditing session, we would be asked to write a success story. I knew that if I said that I loved the course and gained many benefits, or had many wins because of the auditing, I would be rewarded. The rewards could be as basic as a smile from the examiner afterwards, a “well done” from the supervisor, or the absence of a knowledge report that showed my bad indicators. If I said that the auditing or course was just okay, then I would be sent to ethics and interrogated. I’d be questioned about my true feelings about L. Ron Hubbard, or why was I really in Scientology? I might even be blamed for doing something against Scientology, Hubbard, or management. It was a ridiculous train of paranoia and blame, like running inside a squirrel cage and not being able to get off.
1984? MIDDLE EARTH? LORD OF THE FLIES?
There are plenty of known comparisons I could use to describe the Int base environment. I’ve already mentioned Orwell’s 1984, the groupthink and doublespeak of the people. Another is Lord of the Flies, whose characters get stranded on an island and attempt to form a democracy while struggling with human impulses toward peace and harmony versus groupthink and the will to power. But one comparison I moreso relate to is how Scientology is constructed like an alternate reality, a sort of stage of the imagination, like J. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth in Lord of the Rings.
Scientology’s separate world, a civilization with its own language, hierarchies of power, battles and enemies, people types, and exclusive language makes a suitable framework for understanding its utopian paradigm. Of these, language was particularly powerful. Just as Tolkien created a language for Middle-earth, Hubbard created a language not only for Scientology and the Sea Org (which I covered earlier) but specifically for the Int base, making his words central to the experience of being at Int. This jargon consisted largely of abbreviations for places, acronyms for concepts, and names of confidential people, places and operations that only people with Int base quals could access. This feeling of having our unique brand of high security clearance added to the sense of power felt by working at the Int base. This also enabled Hubbard to influence and control people’s ideas, choices, and movements through the power of words: By followers speaking his language, our thinking process is drastically narrowed to Int’s exclusive words that exclude practices of the outside world’s human experience. We studied Hubbard’s policies, as well as his advices for Gold and Flag orders, indicating the extraordinary influence Hubbard held over us, even though none of his “research” or works had been subjected to professional testing and peer review, as is done in any area of credible scholarship.
Along with our self-sufficiency came an attitude of arrogance, an elitist view. At the highest level of Scientology, we acted superior to the Scientology lower echelons and the entirety of the outside world. Wogs were beneath us as unenlightened, garden-variety humanoids. We’d use celebrities for their social capital to promote our social reform programs for literacy, criminality, and drugs. We were a subversive group in that we disagreed with many of the pillars of existence that hold America in place—government, orthodox religion, medicine, educational systems and mental health practices, and we fought for more power to change the world with the Scientology system.
The power that Hubbard and his successor, David Miscavige, wielded here and across the Scientology world was not unprecedented when compared to other similar megalomaniacal leaders who demanded total lifestyle adherence to their words, such as Jim Jones, David Koresh, Joseph Smith, and Sun Myung Moon; and, in certain ways, like Adolf Hitler. From my earliest days, at the Int base, I believed that Miscavige’s totalitarian control of staff caused psychological enslavement. I had been there less than a year when I wondered if George Orwell would be proud or would he roll over in his grave if he knew that 1984 would foretell many of the conditions at Scientology’s headquarters. Sign number one of totalitarian control at this base: restrictions clamped on my life like a vice.
My early impressions of being part of Gold’s collective mindset (that I could never tell anyone) was feeling like I lived on a communist island under a cloud cover that obscured our lifestyle from the rest of society. Sometimes I felt more like a member of a subversive group with leaders battling a war of the worlds, obsessed with conquering the dangerous environment of the “outside.” Outsiders would never suspect the authoritarian rule that shaped daily activities within the walls of this well-groomed corporate estate.
SO MANY REVOLTS
Around 1990, Miscavige found himself in the middle of multiple mine fields. Not long after he had taken the reigns of the organization, key staff in senior positions were blowing from the Sea Org, concurrent with Internet wars starting up with people who wanted to make the Internet the first place where Scientology could be freely discussed, while the “Free Zone” emerged with independent Scientologists wanting to practice Scientology separate from the organized Church of Scientology corporate structure.
The escapes were the most troublesome. The fact that execs were walking out of Scientology management pointed to the larger problem of Miscavige’s leadership, versus there being a problem with Scientology itself. Peter and I had not been involved with the uprisings or takedowns of execs in power positions from the early to late 1980s while Miscavige was on the rise to power. Consequently, we lacked full disclosure at the time about why these people left; instead, we were given blanket statements, that they were all SPs who had committed crimes against Scientology.
A few blows that I recall from this period were Terri Gillham Gamboa, Executive Director of ASI and her husband, Fernando Gamboa, a Gold musician; Mark Fisher, Corporate Liaison I/C RTC; Janis Gillham Grady, an original LRH Messenger from the Apollo and Watchdog Committee member CMO Int and her husband Paul Grady; Jesse Prince, former RTC leader who worked in Audio Gold before he left; Jim Logan and Annie Tidman Broeker Logan, who had been Inspector General RTC; and Andre Tabayoyan, head of Gold Security and his wife, Mary Tabayoyan, who had had an abortion. Losing these people was upsetting to me, because I never bought the shore story that they were each bad people who only left because of crimes against Scientology, so this just stirred the pot of trouble that seemed to be brewing.
I didn’t believe that the problem was the people who were blowing, as COB and other execs would have us believe. What seemed more real was how the tyrannical actions that were becoming commonplace under the Miscavige regime had affected these long-term staff members and their unwillingness to tolerate it. I doubted that COB anticipated this kind of revolt. I imagined that dealing with staff he couldn’t control badly affected his already volatile temperament. Miscavige had to cope with the out-security issues created by each of these people who blew, since anyone who left the Int base would be holding confidential knowledge about LRH and Int base operations.
While these escapes raised red flags for me that we should find out more about what was really going on, Peter expressed the opposite. I started talking to Peter about leaving Gold and getting back into our careers again. He would say, “We are trusted loyal Sea Org officers, Karen. We’re not going to be like Fernando and Terri.” He’d use the Gamboa’s as an example for who he didn’t want to be like.
Fernando’s sudden blow had caused turbulence at the base, specifically within Gold, and most severely within the Audio Division. Peter and Fernando had been friends in the music studio, so Fernando’s blow shocked Peter. The musicians were interrogated about Fernando after he left, with the musicians accused of being out-ethics themselves for not spotting Fernando’s out-ethics indicators. Peter’s only knowledge about Terri Gamboa and ASI was that it took care of LRH’s book rights and royalties; he did not know that they handled LRH’s legal defense (as overseen by Marty Rathbun), personal and business finances (formerly handled by Homer Schomer), and special operations for LRH (ran by David Miscavige). After LRH died, most of those functions moved over to RTC and Terri had been disempowered by Miscavige. Terri had disagreed with Miscavige’s ruthlessness and lying his way to the top, along with his disassembling the key executive structure of Scientology by removing long-time leaders such as Dede Reisdorf, Gail Reisdorf, David Mayo, Bill Franks and others prior to our arrival, to disempower anyone who did not align with supporting Miscavige in his rise to power. Peter just assumed without question that Terri had committed crimes against the organization that caused her to blow.
I never told Peter that I admired Terri and Fernando having the guts to leave, because it seemed safe to assume that Terri knew things we couldn’t possibly know about the management shake-up that would cause her to depart the group she had been part of since we was a child. Terri had been one of the original Commodore’s Messengers on the ship with LRH. It wasn’t until years later that I learned from friends who left the base what had happened, that Terri and the Las Vegas group (the Gamboa’s, Paul and Janis Grady, Mark Fisher, and perhaps others) had been watched by Miscavige’s private investigators for years. Mark Fisher was a threat to Miscavige, because Mark would be able to testify about Miscavige’s micromanagement of church operations that could have put the tax-exemption application at risk. Miscavige and five henchmen also hunted Terri down to give her a “severe reality adjustment” (SRA) after believing that she had left ASI with some papers that could have put the Scientology tax-exempt application at risk, which she had not done. The Truth Rundown done by Tom Tobin, Tampa Bay Times at tampabay.com hosts all the videos interviewing many of the sources including Marty Rathbun, which includes a statement about his own illegal activities, that he ran a private investigator to break into Terri’s car, removed and search her briefcase, and returned it without her knowledge.
Regarding Janis and Paul Grady’s blow—I assumed that their departure related to Miscavige’s tyranny like Terri and Fernando had refused to tolerate anymore. I never drank the Kool-Aid that everyone who blew had committed crimes that made them SPs, as Sea Org leaders would have us believe. But Peter rarely shared my views on this. We argued and fought over the idea of leaving until he refused to talk with me about it anymore.
I recognized in Peter a mix of cowardice with unwillingness to inform himself of facts, after he commented that we were loyal officers who were not going to be like Terri and Fernando, whereas I thought, who cares what church leaders thought about us? This was our life we are talking about. But Int base execs and staff so harshly criticized the Gamboa’s for their treasonous act, that anyone who might have thought about following in their tracks would not even consider trying now. No one wanted to risk a failed escape because the consequences of punishment would be beyond imagination.
One major difference between Peter and me was his unquestioning willingness to accept the shore story that anyone who blew had committed unthinkable crimes, which kept him in a state of blind allegiance to leadership. When he would tell me he didn’t want to leave the Sea Org because we were trusted officers, I couldn’t get him to question the organization to which we had dedicated ourselves. The organization served up plenty of Kool-Aid and the ones who indulged remained the dedicated Sea Org officers. We had only been at the base about a year, and I already felt like I was losing Peter in this way, where his dedication to the Sea Org was exceeding his common sense and connection to reality. Consequently, I fought an ongoing internal battle of wanting to get out and put my life back together, but wanting to do it with a husband who I saw was mentally slipping away. I committed myself to changing Peter’s mind, but meanwhile wasn’t happy about supporting command intention that I didn’t believe in.
The Int base lifestyle and me were not a good fit. The sameness of our appearance, daily routines, schedules and pay, 24/7 security watch, control of our communications, sameness of filing into the buses at night and back into the busses in the morning, and eating together, all suggested a lifestyle more fitting for a military unit or a communist group behind the iron curtain. I often thought how, at Celebrity Centre, Hubbard’s writings encourage artists to practice peaceful revolution, compared to the Int base, which lived out the Sea Org’s war of the worlds in a very literal sense. I had often thought of celebrities and Sea Org members as foot soldiers. But not until I arrived at the Int base did I realize how true this was.
While I had seen myself as practicing peaceful revolution at Celebrity Centre, I had instead become subsumed by a different bloodsport—Hubbard’s war of the worlds.