Getting some of our folks out of Iran

One of the early battles of what I’ve come to call the Fourth World War was played out in the streets of Tehran in 1979. Obviously the storming of the US Embassy, the taking of hostages, and the failed military rescue attempt were big stories and pivotal events in the early stages of one World War which began even as the previous one was still being fought.

But a lot of folks don’t realize that not all US personnel were taken hostage that day, and that though these few managed to escape the immediate danger in the Embassy itself, they were unable to get out of Iran.

Here’s one amazing story of how some of our folks did some amazing things under some amazing pressure: How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran.

Tony Mendez and the CIA created a fake film studio (Studio Six Productions) and project as a cover to get in and out of revolution-torn Iran. They took a stagnating film project, ‘Lord of Light’, and renamed it ‘Argo’. Then they arranged to enter Iran to scout for filming locations.

Really, if you don’t know this story (and I didn’t) you will want to take the time to read the whole thing.

It’s far too good to excerpt meaningfully, but here’s one bit that stuck out a bit:

As time passed, the threat of discovery was mounting. The militants had been combing embassy records and figuring out who was CIA. They had even hired teams of carpet weavers to successfully reassemble shredded documents. (The recovered papers would later be published by the Iranian government in a series of books called Documents From the US Espionage Den.) They might eventually figure out the true number of embassy staff, count heads, and come up short…Back home, the US and Canadian governments were nervous, too. Hints about the escapees had leaked, and several journalists were on the verge of piecing together the story. [emphasis Murdoc’s]

So who was the CIA working against? Let’s see, there were the Islamic militants, of course. Oh, and the media.

No doubt it would have been front page news, with names and maps and everything. The American public has a right to know. Freedom of the press, and all.

I don’t know the details of who was figuring what out, how close they were, or if they would have published. But if it all happened again today, I have little doubt that the cat would be let out of the bag by someone.

Any way, go read.


  1. None of this could have happened without the help of the Canadian embassy. One more reason why Canada must appear to be unsupportive of American middle-east policy. The British would of been suspected right away, as they are the second most hated country in the region.

  2. Great story. I’m in the middle of Mark Bowden’s ‘Guests of the Ayatollah’ as we speak. Good book. I highly recommend it.