Logo, Operation Clambake
Type of site
|Slogan(s)||Undressing the Church of Scientology since 1996|
Operation Clambake, also referred to by its domain name, xenu.net, is a website and Norway-based non-profit organization, launched in 1996, founded by Andreas Heldal-Lund, that publishes criticism of the Church of Scientology. It is owned and maintained by Andreas Heldal-Lund, who has stated that he supports the rights of all people to practice Scientology or any religion. Operation Clambake has referred to the Church of Scientology as "a vicious and dangerous cult that masquerades as a religion". The website includes texts of petitions, news articles, exposés, and primary source documents. The site has been ranked as high as the second spot in Google searches for the term "Scientology".
The term for the organization refers both to a traditional clam bake, as well as the notion from L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology: A History of Man that humans follow a "genetic line" which includes clams, and that the psychological problems afflicting humans are impacted by past experiences. The domain name xenu.net is a reference to the character Xenu from secretive "OT III" Scientology documents.
In 1996, the site was one of the first locations on the internet to host secret Scientology documents pertaining to Xenu and OT III. Shortly thereafter, the Church of Scientology attempted to get this material removed from Operation Clambake and other internet sites, through letters written by counsel, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. After receiving a DMCA takedown notice, Google removed many Xenu.net pages from its indexes, which decreased the site's page rank in searches for "Scientology". This inspired Google to contribute to the Chilling Effects archive, informing others about material missing from Google indexes due to DMCA takedown notices and other legal threats.
Operation Clambake has been consulted by news media organizations and other groups for information on Scientology and related organizations. Dateline NBC cited the organization in a 1998 investigative journalism piece, as have other publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Associated Press. During the Spring 2002 semester, Xenu.net was included as required reading in a New York University course on "Copyright and Censorship", and in 2003 webmaster Andreas Heldal-Lund received the 2003 Leipzig Human Rights Award by the European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA, an organization opposed to the Church of Scientology.
Operation Clambake was founded in 1996 by Andreas Heldal-Lund, an information technology manager in Stavanger, Norway, who administers the site at www.xenu.net. This domain name has been described as provocative, because it is seen by some as a caricature of the character Xenu from Scientology cosmogony. Operation Clambake is registered in Norway as a non-profit organization.
Heldal-Lund chose the name "Operation Clambake" for the organization, as a reference to statements made by L. Ron Hubbard in which Hubbard wrote that the problems of human beings today are a result of traumatic events experienced by them as spiritual beings when they inhabited the bodies of clams during Earth's evolution. In Hubbard's Scientology: A History of Man, he asserts humans follow his notion of the "genetic line" of the "genetic entity", which include clams (as well as sloths, volcanoes, and a "sense of being eaten"), and certain human psychological problems descend from difficulties these clams experienced. Hubbard defined "genetic line" as a collection of the total "incidents" which occurred during the evolution of what Scientology refers to as the "MEST body".
OT III documents
Prior to its own direct conflict with the Church of Scientology, Operation Clambake had described on its site how Amazon.com had pulled Jon Atack's book A Piece of Blue Sky, a work critical of Scientology. The site later became one of the focal points of what some have termed "the war between Scientology and the Internet". On November 8, 1996, Operation Clambake was one of the first sites to host the secretive OT III documents describing the story of Xenu. Operation Clambake maintains the position that posting these internal Church of Scientology documents is permitted under "fair use" allowance of internationally recognized copyright law. The Church of Scientology threatened legal action against various Internet service providers that host the site, demanding it be removed from the Internet for hosting information copyrighted by the Church of Scientology.
In 1998 Salon reported that Scientologists were now blocked from viewing sites critical of Scientology including Operation Clambake and alt.religion.scientology, through the use of a content-control software program referred to by critics as Scieno Sitter. The Church of Scientology was unable to shut down Operation Clambake's internet service provider in Norway. The organization succeeded in shutting down the upstream connection to the site's internet service provider, Netherlands-based Xtended Internet. In November 2002, Xtended Internet's upstream provider, Cignal Global Communications received a letter from Church of Scientology counsel alleging copyright and trademark infringement involved with Xenu.net. This letter led to Cignal Global Communications, a United States-based company, terminating its service with Xtended Internet, which had to move their company to a new backbone provider.
DMCA and Google delisting
In various incidents documented in such publications as The New York Times, Slashdot and Wired, the Church of Scientology has also used the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to force notable Web sites (including the Google search engine) to remove the Operation Clambake homepage, and several leaflets containing copyrighted information, from their indices. Because the Xenu.net site itself is based in Norway, it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the DMCA.
In March 2002, Google agreed to limit access to material critical of the Church of Scientology on www.xenu.net, after it was sued by the Church of Scientology for copyright infringement. Information the Church of Scientology had objected to included an internal report on the death of Lisa McPherson, and images of L. Ron Hubbard. Google received criticism for its actions, and The Guardian reported that Operation Clambake suspected the Church of Scientology was mainly concerned about secret documents where "L Ron Hubbard is said to describe how an alien galactic ruler called Xenu is the root of all human woe". After Operation Clambake was delisted by Google, free-speech advocates besieged Google, complaining that the company was censoring search results. Prior to Google's delisting of the Operation Clambake site, CBC News reported that the site was listed fourth in a search for "Scientology". After Google's actions, Xenu.net did not appear in searches for "Scientology".
Though Google did remove links to Operation Clambake for a short time, in place of the actual links, Google posted a notice explaining the links were removed due to the DMCA, and where the internet surfer could go to find more information. In April 2002 the International Herald Tribune reported that the net effect of the copyright controversy actually drove up the number of links to www.xenu.net, which improved its search results in searches for "Scientology" on Google to number two on the results page—just below the official site of the Church of Scientology. Reflecting on the controversy in a February 2003 interview in The Boston Globe Magazine, Google founder Sergey Brin stated: "Ultimately where we ended up was the right conclusion, but we didn't initially handle it correctly." Some groups critical of the Church of Scientology's actions have later used the Google bomb technique to increase Operation Clambake's Google rankings to the number three slot in a search for "Scientology" on the search engine, by linking the term "Scientology" on their Web pages to http://www.xenu.net/. The Church of Scientology itself has also been accused of an attempt at Google bombing for making a large number of websites linking terms "Scientology" and "L. Ron Hubbard" to each other.
The publicity stemming from this incident was the impetus for Google contributing to the Chilling Effects archive, which archives legal threats of all sorts made against Internet users and Internet sites. Chilling Effects contains the original complaint letter from the law firm used by the Church of Scientology, Moxon & Kobrin. Helena Kobrin, lawyer for the Church of Scientology, stated she took offense at the name of the Web site, saying: "It implies that the First Amendment gives people some special right to infringe copyrights." Sergey Brin and Larry Page were both questioned on Google's response to the Church of Scientology's complaints in a 2004 interview in Playboy Magazine, and they appreciated Chilling Effects as a "nice compromise". Brin explained the new scenario: "So now, if you do a generic search on Scientology, you get a link to a site that discusses the legal aspects of why the anti-Scientology site isn't listed."
Also in 2002, Internet Archive removed all Wayback Machine archival pages of Xenu.net at the request of lawyers for the Church of Scientology. Initially queries reported that the pages had been removed "per the request of the site owner", which Andreas Heldal-Lund denied. This was later changed to a generic "Blocked Site Error" message.
Awards and recognition
Operation Clambake is included as part of the Library of Congress "September 11 Web Archive," and in Spring 2002 www.xenu.net was listed as required reading for the course "Computers in Principle and Practice" at New York University, under a section on "Copyright and Censorship".
On May 17, 2003, Operation Clambake webmaster Andreas Heldal-Lund received the 2003 Leipzig Human Rights Award from the European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA, an organization which states it is composed of "Scientology opponents from all over the world". Operation Clambake was cited by the Committee for exposing what it referred to as "fraud and human rights violations" of the Church of Scientology in the United States. The former Secretary of State of France, Alain Vivien, presented Heldal-Lund with the Award, and stated that his work had revealed the actions of Scientologists with "respect and intelligence". In his acceptance speech, Heldal-Lund spoke about freedom of speech, and emphasized the role of the individual citizen.
On June 16, 1998, Dateline NBC aired an investigative journalism piece on Scientology, and Operation Clambake was referenced on-screen as a resource to learn about "Xenu and the exploded souls". The St. Petersburg Times called Operation Clambake "the best known of the critical Web sites" on Scientology. New Straits Times referred to the site as "a fantastic source of information for anyone interested in the Scientology cult". In July 2000 The Wall Street Journal included Operation Clambake among its list of "Our Favorite Sites" under the "Opinion, Commentary and Gossip" section. The Seattle Times described Operation Clambake as "one of the most popular" sites critical of Scientology.
Many other news organizations have recognized the site's work. BBC News wrote that "(t)he Operation Clambake site portrays The Church as a money-hungry cult", and an article in The New York Times stated "(t)he site portrays the church as a greedy cult that exploits its members and harasses critics". Still other news articles have called Operation Clambake "an anti-Scientology Web site", and the program "Technofile" on Sky News called it "one of the most controversial sites on the web". The Associated Press cited the Xenu and OT III story in describing the Web site: "Critics at www.xenu.net and elsewhere say advanced Scientologists are taught that 75 million years ago, the cosmic ruler Xenu paralyzed billions of people in our galaxy, stacked them on Earth and destroyed their bodies with H-bombs, though the traumatized souls survived."
More recently, news media have consulted Operation Clambake and its proprietor when seeking out information for background on stories involving Church of Scientology and related organizations. The Sunday Times used Operation Clambake's resources while doing a January 2007 story on Narconon and its links to the Church of Scientology. The Daily Reveille consulted Operation Clambake resources for an article on the "Second Chance" program, specifically for background on the Scientology doctrine known as the "Purification Rundown". In April 2007, the Daily News cited an "emergency bulletin" disseminated by Church of Scientology leaders that was posted on Operation Clambake, which seemed to refute claims by Church of Scientology representatives that their ministers were forbidden from proselytizing on campus after the Virginia Tech massacre. In August 2007, the Associated Press included information from Operation Clambake in an article on Scientology's attempts to connect with religious leaders from other faiths.
In Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World, Jack Goldsmith notes that the site's "secret library of Scientology" page was blocked from Google for a short time. He notes that Google's actions in the matter were indicative of its policy to remove search results when threatened by governmental action. The incident between Google and the Church of Scientology involving the Web site was also discussed in an annual meeting of The State Bar of California, and cited as part of the caselaw for "Domestic Copyright Law in Cyberspace."
Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, raised free speech concerns in the Xenu.net case, stating: "The danger is that people will attempt to silence critics under the guise of copyright infringement." In Beyond the First Amendment: The Politics of Free Speech and Pluralism, author Samuel Peter Nelson raises the question: "Why should a private actor (Church of Scientology) in the United States have the power to restrict the speech of a Dutch citizen publishing in the Netherlands whose speech is protected by Dutch law?" In an interview on the Xenu.net controversy, Harvard Law School professor Jonathan Zittrain predicted that more conflicts involving the Church of Scientology were likely to occur in the future. Zittrain stated: "The cutting edge on such battles is often the Church of Scientology. They have very well honed procedures and tactics to remove information that they find objectionable."
Mentioning Operation Clambake as an example of an Internet response to a controversial movement in their 2003 book Understanding New Religious Movements, John A. Saliba and J. Gordon Melton referred to the site as "a Web page devoted to the negative aspects of Scientology". Douglas E. Cowan, writing in Religion Online (2004), characterizes Operation Clambake as an example of a "surfeit of sites dedicated to so-called watchdog organizations or […] home pages of disgruntled ex-members." According to Cowan, Internet coverage of the Church of Scientology represents an "important example of competing propagandas that struggle for authority and control both online and off". Cowan proposes that Operation Clambake seeks to demonstrate that the Church of Scientology "lacks any redeeming social value". Cowan notes that most of the content presented by the site is not the result of original research by the owner but rather a collection of hyperlinks to media reports, scholarly and popular articles, court documents and out-of-print books. Complemented by links to like-minded sites hosting essentially the same information, the result is thought by Cowan to be inflation of the apparent quantity of anti-Scientology material available. According to Cowan, Operation Clambake is not designed to be read by Scientologists, but rather meant for those who already hold negative views about Scientology and might join Heldal-Lund in his self-stated purpose: "The Fight Against the Church of Scientology on the Net." Cowan compares the site to a propaganda effort, and writes that a message is presented repeatedly, consistently to a target audience that already has some affinity with it, leading to a somewhat self-limiting construction of reality.
- Project Chanology
- Scientology and the Internet
- Scientology and the legal system
- Scientology controversy
- Berkman Center for Internet & Society
- Freedom of speech
- Heldal-Lund, Andreas. "Operation Clambake FAQ: Why do you hate Scientology?". Operation Clambake. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Didcock, Barry (February 17, 2007). ""Hubbard love": Barry Didcock puts his scepticism aside and goes in search of the truth behind one of the world's most controversial religions". Sunday Herald. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Marney, Holly (May 20, 2007). "Cult or cure?". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Gallagher, Eugene V. (2004). The New Religious Movements Experience in America. Greenwood Press. p. 271. ISBN 0-313-32807-2.
- "Google adds sites by subtracting". International Herald Tribune. April 24, 2002.
- Hull, Nathan (April 2002). "Copyright and Censorship". Computers in Principle and Practice. New York University. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Bugge, Stella; Harald Vikoyr (November 15, 1996). "Scientologi-Hemmeligheter Stoppet Pa Internett". VG. Verdens Gang AS.
- Ortega, Tony (September 9, 2001). "Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Bezazian was a veteran Scientologist who loved going after church critics. Until she met the darkest detractor of all". Los Angeles New Times.
- Dawson, Lorne L.; Cowan, Douglas E. (2004). Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet. London, UK/New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 172, 261–263. ISBN 0-415-97022-9.
- Heldal-Lund, Andreas. "Disclaimer". Operation Clambake. p. Main. Retrieved January 3, 2008.
Operation Clambake is registered as a non-profit organisation in Norway, state reg.no.: 982 983 126
- "Remember Venus?". Time. December 22, 1952. Retrieved May 2, 2007.
- Hubbard, L. Ron. Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary (First ed.). Bridge Publications. p. 176. ISBN 0-88404-037-2.
- Ryan, Nick (March 23, 2000). "The gospel of the web". The Guardian.
- Høiness, Helle (November 25, 1996). "Den religiøse jakten fortsetter". Dagbladet (in Norwegian).
- Staff (March 25, 1997). "The Scientology Problem". The Wall Street Journal.
- Gallagher, David F. (April 22, 2002). "New Economy; A copyright dispute with the Church of Scientology is forcing Google to do some creative linking". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
- Staff (April 7, 2002). "Service providers as speech police?". CNN. Time Warner.
- Brown, Janelle (July 15, 1998). "A Web of their own: Scientologists say their Internet filter protects the faithful. Critics call it "cult mind-control."". Salon. pp. 1–2. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Goldsmith, Jack L.; Tim Wu (2006). Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World. Oxford University Press. pp. 74–75. ISBN 0-19-515266-2.
- Loney, Matt (March 22, 2002). "Scientologists shut ISP's Net connection". ZDNet News. Archived from the original on October 7, 2007. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Wouters, Paul. "Priority Telecom disconnects Xtended Internet over anti-Scientology website". Xtended Internet. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved October 27, 2007.
- Wendy M. Grossman (December 1995). "alt.scientology.war". Wired magazine 3.12. Wired. Retrieved December 14, 2006.
- Anderson, Kevin (April 25, 2002). "Scientology Church fights Google". BBC News.
- Declan McCullagh (March 21, 2002). "Google Yanks Anti-Church Sites". Wired News. Retrieved June 19, 2006.
- Loney, Matt (March 21, 2002). "Cult forces Google to remove critical links". ZDNet. Retrieved October 19, 2007.
- Northcutt, Stephen (2004). IT Ethics Handbook: Right and Wrong for IT Professionals. Elsevier. p. 250. ISBN 1-931836-22-1.
- Appelman, Daniel L. (October 10, 2002). "Copyrights in Cyberspace and Digital Rights Management" (PDF). The State Bar of California Annual Meeting. p. 5.
- Krauss, Alan; David F. Gallagher (March 22, 2002). "Technology Briefing: Internet, Google Removes Anti-Scientology Links". The New York Times.
- Staff (April 1, 2002). "Engineering searches & Church of Scientology". LA Business Journal.
- Staff (March 31, 2002). "Google Yanks Anti-Church Sites". Wired.
- Burkeman, Oliver (September 5, 2002). "Engine trouble". The Guardian.
- Lutzker, Arnold P. (2003). Content Rights for Creative Professionals. Focal Press. p. 69. ISBN 0-240-80484-8.
- "Google removes anti-Scientology Web links". CBC News. March 22, 2002. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Staff (March 25, 2002). "Google Yields To DMCA-Wielding Church". The Online Reporter.
- Radin, David (April 25, 2002). "Events occur more quickly on the Net". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Staff (July 3, 2002). "A Google-esque solution for copyright infringement on the Web". Miami Daily Business Review.
- "A Nation of Voyeurs". The Boston Globe Magazine. February 2, 2003.
- Garner, Rob (January 30, 2008). "Google Bombing And SEM Is Evolving Into 'Search Engine Activism'". SearchInsider: The Inside Line on Search Marketing. MediaPost Communications. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
- Miller, Jason Lee (January 31, 2008). "Confirmed: Crusaders Google Bomb Scientology". WebProNews: Breaking eBusiness and Search News. iEntry, Inc. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- Hiler, John (March 25, 2002). "Google Time Bomb: Will Weblogs ruin Google's search engine?". Slate. The Washington Post Company. pp. Webhead: Inside the Internet. Retrieved October 27, 2007.
- Staff (December 19, 2003). "Websites link up players for numbers game". Financial Times.
- Bar-Ilan, Judit. "Google Bombing from a Time Perspective". Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 12 (3): Article 8. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00356.x. Retrieved October 27, 2007.
- "Google Begins Making DMCA Takedowns Public". Linux Journal. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- "Google Asked to Delist Scientology Critics Clambake". Chilling Effects. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Thompson, Mark (September 15, 2004). "Overzealous Lawyers Beware: Today's Sites Are Fighting Back". Online Journalism Review. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic. "Google Asked to Delist Scientology Critics (#1)". Chilling Effects. Retrieved October 27, 2007.
- Sherman, Chris (April 15, 2002). "Google Airs Scientology Infringement Demand". DevX News. Retrieved November 11, 2007.
Google provided a copy of the letter from law firm Moxon & Kobrin to online rights watchdog Chilling Effects, a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and University of San Francisco law school clinics.
- Gordon, Margery (June 25, 2002). "The Google Way: Faced with cease-and-desist letters from Scientologists, the search engine pulled the offending links -- and told all". Law.com. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- "Playboy Interview: Google Guys". Playboy Magazine. September 2004.
- Bowman, Lisa M. (September 25, 2002). "Net archive silences Scientology critic". CNET. Retrieved October 20, 2007.
- "Operation Clambake". Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved October 27, 2007.
- "Operation Clambake". September 11 Web Archive. Library of Congress. Archived from the original on July 14, 2012. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
Dates Captured: October 10, 2001 – December 17, 2001
- "Frenchman honored with 2002 Leipzig Human Rights Award for his work against cults". Associated Press. November 5, 2002. Retrieved December 29, 2007.
- Bowman, Lisa M. (May 1, 2003). "Anti-Scientology site spurs award". CNET. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Staff (December 29, 2002). "Norwegian IT professional wins Leipzig Human Rights Award 2003". Dialog Zentrum Berlin.
- European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA (2003). "2003 Leipzig Human Rights Award of the European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA". Official Web site. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- "Leipzig Human Rights Award conferred upon Norwegian Heldal-Lund". Freie Presse Chemnitz. May 18, 2003.
- Hoffman, Sharon Isaak (June 16, 1998). "The Crusader". Dateline NBC. NBC.
- Morgan, Lucy (March 29, 1999). "Internet is battleground in foes' war of information". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- "Getting an online glimpse into cults". New Straits Times. July 20, 2000.
- "Our Favorite Sites". The Wall Street Journal. July 29, 2000. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- Weiss, Jeffrey (July 7, 2005). "Scientology: What it really is and isn't". The Seattle Times.
- "War of the Worlds: The Devil vs. Xenu?". Lufkin Daily News. July 5, 2005.
- Staff (February 21, 2001). "This Week on Technofile". Technofile. Sky News.
Ravi Vadgama, our resident webhound and games master took a look at a couple of sites this week. Ravi looks at one of the most controversial sites on the web. Operation Clambake is an anti-scientology website and is causing rage amongst the community who subscribe to that particular religion.
- Ostling, Richard N. (July 8, 2005). "Controversy has dogged Scientology: Cruise's comments put church back in glare of public controversy". Associated Press.
- Staff (January 7, 2007). "Revealed: how Scientologists infiltrated Britain's schools, Insight: Drugs charity is front for 'dangerous' organisation". The Sunday Times. Times Newspapers Ltd. pp. 1–4.
- Harris, Will (January 28, 2007). "Avoid the dangers of Scientology: Where There's a Will..". The Daily Reveille.
- Debler, Lance D. (April 20, 2007). "Side Dish". Daily News. p. 11.
- Sedensky, Matt (August 8, 2007). "Scientologists find unlikely allies in other faiths". Associated Press.
- Loney, Matt; Evan Hansen (March 21, 2002). "Google pulls anti-Scientology links". CNET News. Retrieved November 11, 2007.
- Nelson, Samuel Peter (2005). Beyond the First Amendment: The Politics of Free Speech and Pluralism. JHU Press. pp. 164–165. ISBN 0-8018-8173-0.
- Saliba, John A.; Melton, J. Gordon (2003). Understanding New Religious Movements. Rowman Altamira. p. 161. ISBN 0-7591-0356-9.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Operation Clambake.|