Dear HBOYour silence is deafening
See how Alex Gibney arrogantly refused to respond or even acknowledge numerous offers by the Church of materials, evidence and eyewitness accounts from individuals who dispute his sources for Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. Even his own lawyers stated, “other persons who were eyewitnesses to the events these individuals describe are appropriate and would be valuable to the filmmaker.” The letter further notes that Gibney is playing a guessing game by withholding the names of individuals making allegations and what they are claiming.
December 24, 2014
Dear Mr. Gibney:
I am writing you again as I have yet to receive a reply from you. Instead of answering my correspondence, you turned it over to your attorney to answer. That said, both HBO’s counsel and your counsel have finally admitted what you should have acknowledged when you started two years ago—that you need to consider materials, evidence and eyewitness statements from individuals who dispute what your sources are claiming.
So that we are clear, I am addressing the points your representative made:
That “other persons who were eyewitnesses to the events these individuals describe are appropriate and would be valuable to the filmmaker.”
We know. That is what we have been saying all along. The point is how can we give you “eyewitnesses” if we don’t know what they are supposed to be eyewitnesses to?
That we “do not know what the content of the film will be, and your assertions therefore are all based on speculation.”
That is exactly what we have been saying. Tell us so we can respond. To avoid hearing the truth, you and HBO continue perpetuating a guessing game in which we are somehow supposed to figure out what questions need answering and what allegations need a response.
That we “are attempting to create a paper trail that you hope to use in any future court proceeding, a few points in reply are appropriate.”
Exactly. To remind you, we have written you repeatedly asking for questions and allegations so the Church could properly respond. But those requests have fallen on deaf ears. Here is a summary:
- On November 6, 2014: “Since you are just coming to me now for the first time, please tell me: Who are your on-the-record sources? What is being said about my Church?”
- On November 11, 2014: “I urge you to send me by email any and all statements made about the Church, as well as the identification of those who made these statements, and give us the opportunity to respond to ensure you have the facts.”
- On November 14, 2014: “Please provide the questions and the Church will provide timely responses.”
- On November 25, 2014: “The Church again demands to be confronted with the allegations and the opportunity to provide relevant evidence in support of its responses.”
- On December 16, 2014: “The Church is being refused the proper opportunity to respond. Not one question or allegation has been received by the Church.”
That the Church is engaging in “a practice that appears to be a delaying technique, rather than an effort at meaningful engagement on genuinely disputed facts.”
You must be joking. Didn’t you spend two years in secret avoiding “meaningful engagement” with us and only approached us at the last minute? You still haven’t presented us with one question or allegation in the last seven weeks, which I again ask you to promptly submit.
That you and your colleagues are informed because you “have been given access to the voluminous materials provided by the Church to Lawrence Wright, on whose book the film is premised.”
If you have read everything we provided Lawrence Wright, then you are aware of the many egregious errors in his book. They include citing Scientologist John Axel [sic— his name is John Aczel] as a source when, in fact, Wright had no contact whatsoever with him. After being called out about this, Wright removed it from the paperback version. How does one claim to have interviewed someone he never contacted (unless, of course, you are writing fiction)?
The book Going Clear was dishonest and you know it. Stop ducking the obvious. Give us the allegations and we will answer with facts, including evidence more current than what was given to Wright more than four years ago.
That “there is nothing to stop the Church from submitting to the filmmaker additional documents or other materials beyond those provided to Mr. Wright that it thinks are likely to be relevant.”
As stated in no fewer than ten letters to you and HBO, for us to know what is relevant you need to give us the questions, assertions and allegations. Stop with the guessing game. As we repeatedly have said, we have available volumes of documentary evidence, court rulings, facts and declarations signed under penalty of perjury.
That we have stated there are certain recent judicial rulings that you are unaware of, and if that is true why we “have not simply provided copies of those judicial rulings to Mr. Gibney?”
The simple answer is you never asked. What’s more, you repeatedly ignored our offer. In fact, it wasn’t until your attorney’s letter that it was finally admitted what you should have acknowledged two years ago—you need to consider the Church’s materials, evidence and eyewitness statements. As we have stated repeatedly, send us allegations and we will provide you relevant rulings.
That you “will not delay release of the film merely because the Church hereafter delivers a truckload of documents to him.”
Maybe you should have done your proper due diligence ahead of time and not waited for two years to reach out to us. But if you insist that you are sticking with your release date, then it reflects your bias. The information we provide will undoubtedly cause you to change your film.
That your approach “primarily has been to interview those individuals, who speak to their own personal experiences.”
How do you know these people are telling the truth about these so-called “personal experiences?” Couching something as a “personal experience” is not a license to lie. If any of them have a “personal experience” in the Church, then there are countless others who shared that experience and are certainly relevant. Cherry picking a small handful of bitter, hateful individuals without asking the Church to identify those who may have been involved in these “personal experiences” reflects your bias.
Sources in Wright’s book—who are your sources as well—have criminal and arrest records, have suborned perjury, have been found not to be credible by courts of law and have admitted to lying about their “personal experiences” to the media. Marty Rathbun, their self-appointed leader who boasts of being a source for your film, just this week under oath referred to Mr. Miscavige as “Hitler,” “Stalin” and “the Ayatollah Khomeini”—certainly not “personal experience” but disgusting hyperbole from a crazed individual obsessed with the leader of the religion.
By contrast, we have seen no evidence that you have sought information from more than 100 Scientologists—former supervisors, spouses, colleagues, friends, peers and even family members of those you spoke with—who were likely eyewitnesses to many, if not all, of these “personal experiences.”
That “interviews with other persons who were eyewitnesses to the events these individuals describe are appropriate and would be valuable to the filmmaker.”
Once again, that is what we have been saying all along. We will give you “eyewitnesses” if we know what they are supposed to be eyewitnesses to. Give us the allegations. We have more people than you likely have room for. So get prepared.
That “contrary to your assertion, Mr. Gibney did not ask Mr. Miscavige (nor the Pope, for that matter) to ‘defend the tenets of his faith.’”
With no disrespect to the Catholic Church, this characterization is entirely inaccurate. Mea Maxima Culpa dealt with numerous concluded legal cases. By contrast, we have won each and every legal case brought by your sources. In fact, at least five of them have state and/or federal court rulings against them.
Your analogy with the Catholic Church pedophile issue is offensive. You wanted the Pope to justify why priests committing crimes remained in the Church so long. Yet with us, you want Mr. Miscavige to answer for why he cleaned house by removing individuals who have confessed to crimes, are admitted liars, committed financial malfeasance, stole from the Church, committed acts of violence and engaged in other unacceptable behaviour. If anything, it’s the opposite.
Your sources were dismissed for cause and expelled. Why aren’t you asking them to defend their behaviour?
Using the courts and the media, these zealots claim as their goal to reinterpret the religion and take over the Church. So you absolutely are asking us to defend the Church’s tenets and faith.
In summary, do you want all the information you need in order to do a fair and complete job, or would you rather look foolish by putting out a documentary that places all its bets on admitted liars with transparent agendas willing to say anything on camera? If you proceed in this manner, I assure you we will exposé your journalistic dishonesty and ineptitude. We have volumes of materials and dozens of individuals ready to meet with you who can provide you the information you need. Unless you have a stake in this bigoted agenda, then you owe it to yourself to get the true data. And you have a duty to be honest to your “audience.”
We are not seeking special treatment, only equal treatment. What are you afraid of? We will be in New York after the holidays and will contact you.
cc: Sheila Nevins, President, HBO Documentary Films