Russell Miller and me

DamOTclese2 commented on Tony O’s blog:

 Of primary importance — for me, any way — is what Gerry thinks about all this. We all have opinions about wrongs that Scientology people have committed against others, and I would love to hear Gerry comment on the re-release of BFM as well as what he thinks about Marty apologizing and underscoring his efforts in committing rights violations against people who spoke the truth about what Scientology is and what Scientology does.

I have tremendous respect for Gerry, I greatly value his insights and opinions and I would love to hear from him.

Thanks for asking, and for your kind thoughts.

Well. BFM and Russell Miller and I go back to March 1986, in Boston as he says. I was working for Mike Flynn, and I spent several hours over a couple of days with Russell. I doubtlessly copied documents for him that Mike or I had and Russell was interested in.

The Scientologists later claimed these documents were “Armstrong documents,” which had been ordered delivered to the LA Superior Court in 1982, and had been the subject of the Scientology v. Armstrong trial in 1984. Whatever I gave Russell were not “Armstrong documents,” and I have never possessed “Armstrong documents” since they were delivered to the Court.

I have one letter from Russell dated April 15, 1986. We might have communicated a couple of times, and I might have chased up some documents or references for him in the next few months. The settlement of the Flynn clients’ cases was December 1986, and I moved to California in January 1987.

I think the next thing I heard about BFM was when the Scientologists filed the CSC v.Miller and Penguin Books case in London. Mike Flynn relayed a threat from cult attorney Earle Cooley, which I described in a March 15, 1990 declaration I filed in the California Court of Appeal in the Scientologists’ appeal from the 1984 Breckenridge Decision.

20. On October 7, 1987 I received a call from Michael Flynn who relayed to me a message from Earle C. Cooley, one of the organization’s principal attorneys, concerning the then proceeding trial in London, England of a lawsuit the organization had brought against a writer, Russell Miller. Mr. Miller had interviewed me in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986, some months before the December settlement, for a biography of L. Ron Hubbard. According to Mr. Flynn, Mr. Cooley stated that it had been disclosed during the trial that Mr. Miller possessed documents in violation of sealing orders in Armstrong and he threatened that if I talked to any of the attorneys or parties involved in the trial the organization would view it as a breach of the settlement agreement.1

I remember someone, an attorney I think, on Russell’s side did call and told me that the Scientologists were accusing me in court of violating sealing orders, of theft, and other things. I remember being totally choked up, and incapable momentarily of even speaking. I finally said something about how I felt but that nevertheless I wouldn’t say anything about those matters.

I’d already been bummed out for months by what I knew of the Scientologists’ post-settlement black propaganda. At the same time, I knew that the contractual conditions prohibiting me from communicating my Scientology-related experiences or knowledge were lawfully judicially unenforceable. This is what Mike Flynn said when getting me to sign the Scientologists’ contract. It was true then, and truer now with twenty-seven years of effects of the subject conditions for analysis. The repeated psychic shock of confronting the depravity of what the Scientologists intend and what they would do to obtain what they intend is paralyzing and painful, which they intend it to be.

In CSC v. Miller, the Scientologists revealed their intention to use their contract to obstruct justice and perpetrate a fraud upon the court by threatening the witness who knew the truth around the lies they were telling in court. They were using the contract to suppress the truth about Hubbard, the source of their cruelty, and to punish a writer and publisher who really did act in concert with me, publishing a few of my words about my experiences and knowledge.

In 1988, I think Jon Atack sent me copies of some of the materials concerning me the Scientologists had filed in the CSC v. Miller case. There were five October 1987 affidavits of Ken Long, some exhibits or parts, and an affidavit of Sheila Chaleff.2

In the March 15, 1990 declaration that I filed in the California Court of Appeal1, I countered the charges against me in the Long and Chaleff affidavits. In response, the Scientologists filed a declaration dated March 26 from Ken Long. 4

I filed a declaration in the Court of Appeal dated December 25, 1990 further dealing with the Scientologists’ charges against me in CSC v. Miller.5

Sometime, I didn’t note when, I received the October 10, 1987 Vinelott Judgment, which dismissed the Scientologists’ attempt to enjoin the publication of BFM, and excoriated them to boot for their use of the law to suppress. 6

And the final words in his 16-page judgment:

I do not propose to go into this aspect of the case, save only to observe that one statement of policy to be found in the writings of the Church is in substance that litigation may be resorted to in order to stifle criticism. This litigation to my mind precisely answers the description of oppressive litigation, that is, litigation (which the authors equally clearly had in mind) which is not bona fide launched to protect any legitimate interest of the church in preserving confidentiality in information contained in Mr Miller’s biography.

For these reasons I have reached the conclusion that this application is both mischievous and misconceived and must be dismissed and in my judgment dismissed with costs to be taxed and paid forthwith.7

The Scientologists appealed from the Vinelott Judgment and on October 22, 1987 the Court of Appeal dismissed their appeal.8

Fortunately Mr. Justice Vinelott got the judgment right, and who had the excoriation coming. And fortunately too the Court of Appeal rightly affirmed his judgment. But neither Justice Vinelott or the Court of Appeal got the facts right about the Armstrong documents, the Breckenridge decision, or what documents I’d given Russell Miller.

The Justices were denied the facts because the Scientologists were threatening me into silence, or I suppose torturing me into silence, while they filed their sworn version of the facts, unrebutted. Miscavige, Rathbun, Long, Chaleff, their attorneys, et al. pulled a jurisprudential fast-one right out of a true-crime story. Penguin Books would have flown me to London in a flash. I could have clarified the Scientologists’ mud for very smart old Justice Vinelott. And the Scientologists might not have been so emboldened to keep telling the same lies all the years since.

In 1992, when I was working with Ford Greene in San Anselmo, California, Mishcon de Reya, defendants’ solicitors in CSC v. Miller & Penguin, sent me nice copies of the Long and Chaleff affidavits with very pretty Supreme Court Chancery Chambers stamps. 9

Russell contacted me sometime in the new millennium because he was writing a sort of update to BFM, what had happened since publication, and I think it was for the Telegraph.  An editorial person at the publication wanted to know my legal situation with the Scientologists, and I explained it to him and sent him links for key documents. I didn’t ever see anything published, and I don’t know what happened with the piece Russell was working on. I think the Scientology v. Armstrong war has many times boggled legal and media people with its enormity and complexity, the time needed to understand it, and the beast waiting if it is understood.

Russell next came into my life when The New Yorker published Lawrence Wright’s profile of Paul Haggis in February 2011. Wright falsely accused Russell, Jon Atack and Bent Corydon of all relying on stolen materials for their Hubbard biographies. Wright also falsely accused me of being a former Scientology archivist who cop­ied, without permission, many of the cult’s files on Hubbard. The implication in Wright’s article, which he confirmed, was that the stolen materials that the 3 writers relied on came from me; that is, that I had stolen them. I communicated with Jon and Bent about Wright’s stolen materials charge, but didn’t have Russell’s contact data. Jon might have informed Russell what was going on with The New Yorker, but I don’t know. I thought that the way The New Yorker dealt with me was stunning; that is, it stunned me, and still does. I don’t know if the three musketographers were similarly stunned, or how else they might have felt.

When I read John Sweeney’s book Church of Fear, in January 2013, I contacted Silvertail Books to complain about what he had written about me, and weirdly without contacting me. I think Humfrey Hunter, the editor and publisher, agreed to change the complained-about facts and text at the next opportunity, which should have been any day now. In explaining to Mr. Hunter the provenance of an error in CoF, I mentioned Russell and BFM:

It is true that Russell Miller’s Hubbard biography stated:

Ron did not bother to mention how Mary Sue was making out at the Federal Correctional Institution in Kentucky, neither did he comment on the time-bomb ticking away under the church in the slight form of his disenchanted archivist and biographer Gerry Armstrong, who had taken thousands of documents with him when he left Scientology – documents that proved the founder of Scientology was a charlatan and a liar.

Miller definitely possessed the Breckenridge decision. He quoted from it in Bare-Faced Messiah. I met with him two days in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986, and I am sure I spoke with him freely about my Scientology experiences and knowledge, the Hubbard biography project, and the 1984 trial. Obviously oddly, Miller does not mention Omar Garrison in all of BFM.

Miller quite honestly describes moments and periods in my life, and the quotes he attributes to me throughout BFM sound reasonably accurate. The book, however, does contain some fact errors about me. In the excerpt above, for example, my form was slight, and I was Hubbard’s disenchanted archivist, but not his biographer. That was Omar Garrison.

I had not taken thousands of documents with me when I left Scientology. I left Scientology in December 1981 and went to Canada, with no documents; that is, with none of the documents that became the subject of the Scientologists’ lawsuit, which was filed in August 1982. Those documents I obtained from Garrison, and sent them to my attorneys, with his permission, in June or July of 1982.

The Scientologists have always been running up against God’s ironies.

When Miller’s book was published, and I first obtained a copy, the Scientologists were threatening me with enforcement of their December 1986 silence contract. They had threatened me specifically in the Church of Scientology of California v. Russell Miller & Penguin Books case if I communicated to anyone on the defendants’ side. From a declaration I filed in March 1990 in the appeal the Scientologists had maintained from the 1984 Breckenridge judgment. (Quoted above.)

(This March 1990 declaration was actually my first public statement following the December 1986 settlement, and after the California Court of Appeal granted my petition to respond in the Scientologists’ appeal from Breckenridge.)

With me silenced, the Scientologists filed a bunch of affidavits in CSC v. Miller falsely accusing me of various violations, and repeating the false claim, disproven in my 1984 trial, that I did not have permission to provide Hubbard’s biographical papers to Garrison. E.g.:

25. Mr. Miller, by his own admission, is fully aware that the Church issued legal proceedings against Mr. Armstrong for removal of Mr. Hubbard’s confidential documents from the Church while Mr. Armstrong was employed by the Church.


31. The Church has spent thousands of man hours and millions of dollars since 1982 in order to uphold the duty it owed to Mr. Hubbard as the bailee for his materials when they were taken by Mr. Armstrong.10

5. It was the theft by Mr. Armstrong of those documents, which included the boyhood diaries and journals of Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, letters between Mr. Hubbard and his family, correspondence between Mr. Hubbard and his friends and associates spanning over forty years, Mr. Hubbard’s military records, and so forth, which formed the basis for the Church’s action against Mr. Armstrong on August 2, 1982.11

I do not know where Miller got the wrong idea that I had taken thousands of documents with me when I left Scientology. Most likely it was the Scientologists relentless repetition of their lie, even under oath, when I was being threatened into not responding to correct the history they were fabricating.

Then last December I read that Silvertail was going to republish BFM, so I contacted Mr. Hunter again, to congratulate Russell and him, and get the couple of easy-to-correct facts corrected. We worked it out, and Mr. Hunter I think even said he’d send me a book, which I asked Russell to sign.

I got the Kindle version and the agreed-on corrections about me have been made. I read Tony Ortega’s interview with Russell and am grateful for the kind thoughts.

So the re-release of BFM is excellent. I’ll perhaps comment on Marty’s apologizing separately. My life with Russell has been a cracking good book.