1. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright likes to be at the cross-section of religion and culture.  He has written about al-Qaida, Scientology and now, what happened behind-the-scenes at the Camp David Accords in 1978.  His book, Thirteen Days in September, takes a look at what Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin wanted to gain—and what they had to lose.
Wright tells Fresh Air today that both Sadat and Begin came close to walking out and how President Carter reacted: 

"Implicitly, [Carter] was threatening war because he was saying that if there’s another war, [the U.S.] is going to be on Israel’s side and Egypt will be alone and friendless in the world. It was a very sobering moment. Carter told me that he had never been angrier in his entire life. It was clear that he made a real impression on Sadat. Sadat had already ordered the helicopter; he had packed his clothes; he was out of there. He was worried that he was going to be asked to give up too much at Camp David and he wouldn’t be able to justify it when he got home.
[Begin] didn’t really have a position. He didn’t want to agree to any of the terms that Carter was putting forward. Finally, he began to realize that he was going to have to agree with something in order to preserve the relationship with the United States. Carter told him that if he left Camp David, he was going to make sure that the American people knew who was to blame [for the collapse of the peace talks]. He was going to go to Congress; he was going to lay it on them.
One of [Carter’s] speechwriters was told to draw up a speech in which Carter was going to ask the Israeli people to overthrow their government, through a vote, but imagine! You can’t believe how that would be received in Israel or even the Congress of the United States. Things had gotten so personal at the point. Carter believed so strongly that peace was worth it, but he was about to blow everything to smithereens — if either of these men walked out, they were going to pay a price and he wanted to make sure they knew it.”

    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright likes to be at the cross-section of religion and culture.  He has written about al-Qaida, Scientology and now, what happened behind-the-scenes at the Camp David Accords in 1978.  His book, Thirteen Days in September, takes a look at what Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin wanted to gain—and what they had to lose.

    Wright tells Fresh Air today that both Sadat and Begin came close to walking out and how President Carter reacted: 

    "Implicitly, [Carter] was threatening war because he was saying that if there’s another war, [the U.S.] is going to be on Israel’s side and Egypt will be alone and friendless in the world. It was a very sobering moment. Carter told me that he had never been angrier in his entire life. It was clear that he made a real impression on Sadat. Sadat had already ordered the helicopter; he had packed his clothes; he was out of there. He was worried that he was going to be asked to give up too much at Camp David and he wouldn’t be able to justify it when he got home.

    [Begin] didn’t really have a position. He didn’t want to agree to any of the terms that Carter was putting forward. Finally, he began to realize that he was going to have to agree with something in order to preserve the relationship with the United States. Carter told him that if he left Camp David, he was going to make sure that the American people knew who was to blame [for the collapse of the peace talks]. He was going to go to Congress; he was going to lay it on them.

    One of [Carter’s] speechwriters was told to draw up a speech in which Carter was going to ask the Israeli people to overthrow their government, through a vote, but imagine! You can’t believe how that would be received in Israel or even the Congress of the United States. Things had gotten so personal at the point. Carter believed so strongly that peace was worth it, but he was about to blow everything to smithereens — if either of these men walked out, they were going to pay a price and he wanted to make sure they knew it.”

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  1. Lawrence Wright tells Terry Gross about Scientology’s Operating Thetan Level No. 3:


When you get to Operating Thetan Level No. 3, there’s a big discovery that you have in Scientology. It was the most closely held secret in the church until it was put out and dumped into a courtroom in the ’80s and all the copyrighted secrets of the church became public knowledge. At that level, Hubbard reveals that we are all infested with space aliens that are called ‘Body Thetans,’ and they’re really the sources of all of the problems and fears and things that we have in our lives, and if you can audit yourself and discover these Thetans and expel them, it’s akin to casting out demons that you can free yourself to ever higher levels of spiritual accomplishment.”


image via Universe Today

    Lawrence Wright tells Terry Gross about Scientology’s Operating Thetan Level No. 3:

    When you get to Operating Thetan Level No. 3, there’s a big discovery that you have in Scientology. It was the most closely held secret in the church until it was put out and dumped into a courtroom in the ’80s and all the copyrighted secrets of the church became public knowledge. At that level, Hubbard reveals that we are all infested with space aliens that are called ‘Body Thetans,’ and they’re really the sources of all of the problems and fears and things that we have in our lives, and if you can audit yourself and discover these Thetans and expel them, it’s akin to casting out demons that you can free yourself to ever higher levels of spiritual accomplishment.”

    image via Universe Today

  2. Fresh Air

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  1. Lawrence Wright tells Terry Gross about the belief some Scientologists have that Hubbard will return to Earth:



There’s a widespread belief that he’s going to return, and every Scientology church and his several residences and so on, they have his office ready for him. His sandals are at the shower door. He’s got his cigarettes on his desk. In his residence in the Scientology compound in southern California there’s a novel beside his bed, and they change his sheets on his bed daily and they set a table place for him for one at his dining room table. So there’s a sense that he might come back at any moment.

    Lawrence Wright tells Terry Gross about the belief some Scientologists have that Hubbard will return to Earth:

    There’s a widespread belief that he’s going to return, and every Scientology church and his several residences and so on, they have his office ready for him. His sandals are at the shower door. He’s got his cigarettes on his desk. In his residence in the Scientology compound in southern California there’s a novel beside his bed, and they change his sheets on his bed daily and they set a table place for him for one at his dining room table. So there’s a sense that he might come back at any moment.

  2. Fresh Air

    Interviews

    Lawrence Wright

    Scientology

    L. Ron Hubbard

  1. Lawrence Wright tells Terry Gross about L. Ron Hubbard’s interest in attracting Hollywood to Scientology:




He really said that he wanted to take over the entire entertainment industry … but his dream grew larger when he established the Church of Scientology in Hollywood and set up the Celebrity Center with the goal of attracting notable celebrities. … They wanted an exemplary Scientologist to show to the world, and … you know, they did get some people like Gloria Swanson, the star of silent films, became a member. Rock Hudson came in the door for a while, and, in those early days, they were constantly patrolling for someone who could be the public face of Scientology.




Image of the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

    Lawrence Wright tells Terry Gross about L. Ron Hubbard’s interest in attracting Hollywood to Scientology:

    He really said that he wanted to take over the entire entertainment industry … but his dream grew larger when he established the Church of Scientology in Hollywood and set up the Celebrity Center with the goal of attracting notable celebrities. … They wanted an exemplary Scientologist to show to the world, and … you know, they did get some people like Gloria Swanson, the star of silent films, became a member. Rock Hudson came in the door for a while, and, in those early days, they were constantly patrolling for someone who could be the public face of Scientology.

    Image of the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

  2. Fresh Air

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    Lawrence Wright

    Scientology

  1. Haggis forwarded his resignation to more than twenty Scientologist friends, including Anne Archer, John Travolta, and Sky Dayton, the founder of EarthLink. “I felt if I sent it to my friends they’d be as horrified as I was, and they’d ask questions as well,” he says. “That turned out to be largely not the case. They were horrified that I’d send a letter like that.”

    Tommy Davis told me, “People started calling me, saying, ‘What’s this letter Paul sent you?’ ” The resignation letter had not circulated widely, but if it became public it would likely cause problems for the church. The St. Petersburg Times exposé had inspired a fresh series of hostile reports on Scientology, which has long been portrayed in the media as a cult. And, given that some well-known Scientologist actors were rumored to be closeted homosexuals, Haggis’s letter raised awkward questions about the church’s attitude toward homosexuality. Most important, Haggis wasn’t an obscure dissident; he was a celebrity, and the church, from its inception, has depended on celebrities to lend it prestige. In the past, Haggis had defended the religion; in 1997, he wrote a letter of protest after a French court ruled that a Scientology official was culpable in the suicide of a man who fell into debt after paying for church courses. “If this decision carries it sets a terrible precedent, in which no priest or minister will ever feel comfortable offering help and advice to those whose souls are tortured,” Haggis wrote. To Haggis’s friends, his resignation from the Church of Scientology felt like a very public act of betrayal. They were surprised, angry, and confused. “ ‘Destroy the letter, resign quietly’—that’s what they all wanted,” Haggis says.

    — "Paul Haggis vs. The Church of Scientology" by Lawrence Wright in The New Yorker, February 14, 2011. Wright’s book about Scientology — Going Clear — was released last week, and Wright will be on the show today to discuss it.

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  1. He will continue to live as a potent symbol. There’s no question that he’s going to have an enduring appeal for a number of people — not just perhaps radical Muslims but other groups that will follow the template that al-Qaida created — that’s my main concern. Bin Laden is dead. Al-Qaida, eventually, will die. But the model that al-Qaida has created of an asymmetric terror group that has enormous consequences in the world well beyond the size of the group — that’s going to endure. Other groups are going to try and follow that model.

    — Lawrence Wright on the legacy of Osama Bin Laden.

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  1. Lawrence Wright on the role of the Pakistani government: "I’m not surprised to learn that he was essentially sheltered by Pakistani intelligence and military units. I do make that assumption. I feel that for years, the Pakistani military and intelligence complex has been in the ‘looking for bin Laden’ business. He was a priceless asset to them because we poured billions of dollars into their pockets to try to find him. If they found him, they’d be out of business. So he was an irreplaceable asset and I think that Pakistan has a lot to answer for. This looks very incriminating. … This gives us an opportunity to reassess exactly what our relationship with Pakistan ought to be." View in High-Res

    Lawrence Wright on the role of the Pakistani government"I’m not surprised to learn that he was essentially sheltered by Pakistani intelligence and military units. I do make that assumption. I feel that for years, the Pakistani military and intelligence complex has been in the ‘looking for bin Laden’ business. He was a priceless asset to them because we poured billions of dollars into their pockets to try to find him. If they found him, they’d be out of business. So he was an irreplaceable asset and I think that Pakistan has a lot to answer for. This looks very incriminating. … This gives us an opportunity to reassess exactly what our relationship with Pakistan ought to be."

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    osama bin laden

  1. Lawrence Wright: Explaining Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood View in High-Res

    Lawrence Wright: Explaining Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

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  1. Prouty, who also had worked for the church, had told them that Hubbard had actually been an intelligence agent, and the records were, as he said, sheep-dipped. That’s apparently a term of art in intelligence that maintains that there were two sets of records. And we obtained all of Mr. Hubbard’s military records, and there was no second set of records. There was no evidence that he had ever acted as an intelligence agent during the war in any serious capacity, and that he had never been wounded.

    — When Lawrence Wright asked the Church of Scientology’s spokesman Tommy Davis to square the records that The New Yorker obtained with the Church of Scientology’s own records, Davis replied that the Church was also puzzled by the discrepancies until it found an expert named Fletcher Prouty to clarify the matter for them. (From Fact-Checking the Church of Scientology)

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  1. Audio for Terry’s interview with Lawrence Wright about the Church of Scientology is now up. You can also listen to the second half of the show, where Wright discussed the Muslim Brotherhood and the situation in Egypt. (Wright lived in Egypt for many years.)

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  1. We finally gained access to Hubbard’s entire World War II records [through a request to the military archives] and there was no evidence that he had ever been wounded in battle or distinguished himself in any way during the war. We also found another notice of separation which was strikingly different than the one that the church had provided.

    — L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, had maintained that he was blind and a ‘hopeless cripple’ at the end of World War II — and that he had healed himself through measures that later became the basis of Dianetics, the 1950 book which became the basis for Scientology. But New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright discovered documents that contradicted Hubbard’s statements.

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  1. Fact-Checking The Church of Scientology
picture: L Ron Hubbard’s birth certificate, from The New Yorker’s Primary Sources: L Ron Hubbard

    Fact-Checking The Church of Scientology

    picture: L Ron Hubbard’s birth certificate, from The New Yorker’s Primary Sources: L Ron Hubbard

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    the new yorker

  1. Our guest tomorrow, New Yorker writer, Lawrence Wright will talk about his article “The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology.” Wright is also the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Looming Tower. We’ll also talk with him about why Al-Qaeda and the Egyptian group, the Muslim Brotherhood, are enemies. Wright was previously on Fresh Air to discuss Israel and Gaza and his documentary, My Trip to Al-Qaeda.

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  1. Lawrence Wright’s piece in the Feb. 14 & 21 issue of The New Yorker, in which he profiles the film director and screenwriter Paul Haggis, who resigned from the Church of Scientology in 2009, after being a member for nearly thirty-five years and who, until now, has not spoken publicly about his departure. Lawrence Wright will be on Fresh Air tomorrow, to talk about about this piece and his pieces on the Muslim Brotherhood.

    (Source: newyorker.com)

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    paul haggis

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  1. "If you’re going to pin down a single word about what is it that  characterizes the drive into this radical reaction, I think a word might  be despair. There are many different rivers that lead into  despair: there’s poverty, there’s political repression, there’s gender  apartheid — there’s a sense of culture loss, there’s religious  fanaticism. All of these elements are present in many different Muslim  countries in varying degrees and the world is full of poor countries  that don’t produce terrorists. And the world is full of repressive  governments that don’t have violent insurgencies. But when you start  mixing all of these different elements together, then you get a very  combustible combination." — Lawrence Wright, ‘My Trip To Al-Qaeda.’ View in High-Res

    "If you’re going to pin down a single word about what is it that characterizes the drive into this radical reaction, I think a word might be despair. There are many different rivers that lead into despair: there’s poverty, there’s political repression, there’s gender apartheid — there’s a sense of culture loss, there’s religious fanaticism. All of these elements are present in many different Muslim countries in varying degrees and the world is full of poor countries that don’t produce terrorists. And the world is full of repressive governments that don’t have violent insurgencies. But when you start mixing all of these different elements together, then you get a very combustible combination." — Lawrence Wright, ‘My Trip To Al-Qaeda.’

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