Scientology foe not so Anonymous after all

Somewhere out there in L. Ron Hubbardville Tom Cruise and John Travolta are high fiving, Kirstie Allie is treating herself to a bucket of the Colonel's finest and a gallon of Chunky Monkey, and Beck is doing whatever Beck does to amuse himself.

The reason they're celebrating: "Anonymous" has apparently been unmasked.

The scourge of Scientology turns out to be an 18-year-old kid from New Jersey named Dmitriy Guzner. At least, that's whom authorities have arrested for defacing and DDOSing last January.

Whether's he's guilty is, of course, yet to be determined.

[Update: Guzner has entered a guilty plea.]

Anonymous hacked the site in retaliation for the Church of Scientology's dogged attempt to squelch distribution of the infamous Tom Cruise video. No, not the video of Cruise jumping around on Oprah's couch like a lunatic, or the one with him foaming at the mouth about psychiatry with the Today Show's Matt Lauer. This was a video keynote Cruise made in 2005 accepting the group's Freedom Medal of Valor Award.

Scientology used a DMCA hammer to get the the pep talk yanked from YouTube and other viral video sites, claiming copyright infringement. But not, which continues to host the Cruise video to this day. It's also apparently back up on YouTube. Maybe the CoS realized this was a battle it couldn't win and just gave up.

Since then, Anonymous has posted "secret" church materials on whistleblower site and inspired regular protests and vigils outside CoS headquarters around the world.

From the internecine bickering and juvenile silliness on sites associated with the anti-Scientologist activists, as well as the some of the content on the group's creepy YouTube videos, it's pretty clear "Anonymous" isn't just one person.

David Kernell, who's been charged with 'hacking' into one of Sarah Palin's Yahoo email accounts, was also associated with Anonymous. I'll bet there are a half dozen others who've had a piece of this action and/or would be happy to step in while Guzner is on ice. In other words, I don't think we've seen the last of Anonymous by a long shot.

Full disclosure: In a previous life I once briefly worked for a Scientology-based organization. It was the weirdest and in some ways the most fascinating 7 weeks of my life, and I feel fortunate to have escaped. Your mileage may vary.

Want to learn more about CoS (or just get a good laugh)? Be sure and catch these clips from the South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet," starring You Know Who.

Is Anonymous Cruisin' for a bruisin? Post your thoughts below or email them to me: dan (at) dantynan (dot) com.


Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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