Six American diplomats escaping from Iran in 1980. – Fortune Magazine soldier

Six American diplomats escaping from Iran in 1980. - Fortune Magazine soldier

CIA Goes Hollywood

Antonio J. Mendez

Background: Exfiltration and CIA

When knowledgeable of the CIA, the Directorate-Basic's operations or some other intelligence agency (IC) elements of the technical workplace providers (OTS) exfiltrointikyky, I’m all the time reminded them The "readiness" is the important thing. This is among the day-to-day considerations of your former OTS workplace, Graphics and Authentication Division (GAD).

In organizing refugees and different potential intelligence service refugees who are subject to political persecution and hostile pursuit Earlier planning shouldn’t be all the time attainable as they appear in odd hours on the street. Present surveys and the collection of up-to-date intelligence on journey control and procedures are very important. OTS is lively worldwide.

The power to transfer sensitive materials in a harmful approach using virtually legal strategies is equally essential. The CIA's coverage and apply is to deliver its invaluable human assets from the cold once they can not keep in place. Typically this consists of their household. Public regulation 110 empowers IC to take a position these individuals in america as people in america when the time comes and the quota permits.

OTS / GAD and its Followers have taken care of such actions after the OSS days. The "authentication" of operational officials and their representatives by providing them with personal documentation and coverage, comprehensive legends and help knowledge, "pocket sand" and so on, are fraudulent trade in fraudulent activities. Private documents and camouflage specialists, graphic designers and other graphic designers spend tons of of hours getting ready supplies, tailoring cover legends and coordinating the plan.

Human penetration and drainage to hostile areas are dangerous purposes for this commerce. The mental angle and conduct of the topic are as necessary because the technical accuracy of the business objects. Sometimes, technical operations officers truly paved the way by way of the control points to make sure that their confidence doesn’t intrude with the essential second.

Operation in Iran: Going Public

Operational Participation of GAD Officers in the Exphilation of Six Individuals in Iran The US State Department employees January 28, 1980 was an in depth secret till the CIA decided to unveil it as part of the Company's 50th anniversary in 1997.

David Martin The CBS News correspondent dealing with national safety issues in Washington was a narrative early, as did Mike Ruane, The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Canadian Broadcasting Company and Reader's Digest have both made critical songs as a result of CIA opened the information for this essential success story.

The e-book by Jean Pelletier, Canadian Caper, revealed in 1980, mentions that Canada – whose diplomats in Tehran have been hidden and taken care of by six American "houseguest" packages after the US embassy was seized by Iranian militants in the form of pretend stocks in Canadian passports, in order that Canadian ambassador to Iran, Kenneth Taylor, planned to escape six Iranians. A short walk in the Hamilton Jordan Crisis Ebook refers to CIA officers in Tehran. When he left the workplace, former President Carter, in his statements to the media, made extra reference to his credit score due to his administration only the only real operational success of the hostage crisis.

Reminders of a Long National Emergency Starting November 4, 1979 With the takeover of the US Embassy and ending with the discharge of 52 hostages on January 1, 1981 – overlaying various major plans and operational actions concentrating on Iran and supported by OTS. These included intelligence gathering, fraudulent options, hostage rescue, secret negotiations with the Iranian authorities; and exfiltrations of authors and "Canadian six."

Today, the CIA of the environment was one warning. OTS, like most of the agency's elements, was badly awful. There are quite a few tales of technical and operational innovations ensuing from an emergency; rescuing six is ​​certainly one of many such tales.

New Work, New Challenge

11. December 1979, a few month after the switch of his embassy in Tehran, I moved from work to Chief, OTS, Shelter, Head, OTS, Certification Division. I had international operational duty for camouflage, making false paperwork and forensic tracking of questioned documents for terrorist or countermeasures. Nevertheless, President Carter determined to not use this plan.

The requirement that six staff of the State Secretariat are hidden in the care of the Canadian Embassy in Iran was one of the many challenges I needed to cope with in my first day at work. I instantly created a small group that worked on this problem.

The complexities have been apparent. We had to discover a strategy to rescue six People with out intelligence, and we should always coordinate a delicate action plan with excessive-degree determination-makers from one other US authorities and the US and Canada administrations. The stakes have been high. An unsuccessful exfiltration motion would immediately achieve international consideration and significantly disrupt the USA, its president and the CIA. It will in all probability make life harder for all American hostages in Iran. The Canadians additionally had rather a lot to lose; human safety in Iran and the security of their embassy can be compromised.

But we had been very impressive in any such exercise for a few years.

Assortment of Primary Info

We had just lately moved one representative from Iran by means of Mehrabad airport in Tehran. Because of this operation, we had various technical info on airport control and the qualifications and effectiveness of the individuals utilizing them. The task of amassing and analyzing current document info would subsequently be to match fairly current knowledge and make sure that it was updated slightly than beginning from scratch.

We additionally help steady infiltration and filtering. a number of intelligence service suppliers and brokers who traveled to and out of Iran for intelligence gathering and hostage rescue planning.

Main obstacles

We have been apprehensive concerning the exit controls at the airport. Lengthy earlier than the revolution, the Iranian authorities had permitted a two-sheet flagging or touchdown type. This kind is printed on an unbiased paper and is crammed in by the passenger upon arrival. The authorities retained the white sheet, and the passenger retained a yellow piece that appeared at the exit point when leaving. The officer had to agree on two types to ensure that the passenger left before the top of his visa. Many nations in the world have comparable techniques; few do the verification process on the spot if ever.

We hoped to seek out out whether or not the militants in Mehrabad had met such a constructive verify earlier than the passengers have been removed from the airport. Previously, in 1979, surveillance employees weren’t professional and didn’t gather varieties until the outgoing passenger voluntarily requested them. We had to find out if this was still the case.

One other major challenge we needed to face was to cowl the story and help paperwork for the North American women and men group. We mentioned three interrelated issues related to this facet of design: we should always use the sort and nationality of passports we use, the kind of cover and whether or not we should always move six out of the group or separately.

The CIA management had robust opinions on these points, as well as the division. The Canadian government ought to be involved in the discussions sooner or later.

Move problem

Dialogue of passports began with the question of whether strange US passports, Canadian passports or different overseas passports are used. CIA leaders were not proud of the thought of ​​using overseas passports. They have been apprehensive that people who weren’t intelligence professionals might prove incapable of maintaining overseas protection. is awarded to two CIA officers despatched to Tehran. Considered one of these officers was among the many hostages held at the Embassy. Discovering passports was a widespread media visibility in Iran and different nations

With regard to Canadian passports, we initially suspected that Canada can be prepared to disregard its personal passport legislation. Neither did we expect that Ottawa can be prepared to place Canadian residents and amenities in Iran at an elevated danger that they might face if the actual function of the passports and American use have been revealed.

In view of these drawbacks and obstacles, the Canadian and other overseas passport choices appeared to OTS to be liable for constructing coverage for using US passports. But we feared that such an exercise can be an undesirable give attention to six subjects and would put them at higher danger.

Our expertise and options finally favor Canadian passports regardless of the risks. We decided to put strain on this feature, but we’ll focus first on the design of the six decks before we make the final recommendations on the type of passport for use.

Looking for info

We began the seek for all the sources for the kinds of groups traveling to Mehrabad airport. Meanwhile, the DO's Middle East (NE) group developed info on terrestrial “black” exfiltration options and hoped to determine the smuggler's route or “rat line” to Turkey. Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot had used such a plan to filter his two staff in the early levels of the Iranian Revolution. He had already offered help to the company for the rescue of hostages.

Quickly we developed info that confirmed that groups legally traveling to Iran included oilfield technicians from European corporations, newsgroups of all nationalities overlaying the state of affairs of hostages, and all types of looking and making curiosity around the globe. Many of those individuals have been US citizens. No one is fit for our purposes, given the profiles and patterns of those groups, and the cautious evaluation and management applied by the Iranian security and immigration businesses. We believed that it was essential for skilled intelligence practitioners to make the final probe to Iran and meet personally with six to assess their frame of mind and their capacity to carry out.

Discussions with Canada

assembly with senior leaders to current our place and discover options. We have been also aware that six senior officers from NE and Canada had already been to Ottawa, the place his Canadian authorities ministry officials included the subject of Canadian passports. Our assembly with NE Division officials went pretty nicely they usually agreed in principle

As a result of the Canadians have been comprehensible concerning the mechanism of exfiltration and how their passports can be used, we advised that OTS would get approval to go to Ottawa to elucidate this info. OTS skilled, Joe Missouri, and I organized to go away for Ottawa instantly. We produced passport pictures and relevant alias bio knowledge for six who would be a part of Ottawa in the hope that we might win the Canadians. We’ve got already directed many questions to Canadian ambassador Taylor, and his responses gave us a very good sense of his consent to unlawful planning.

In our discussions with Canadian officials, we discovered that the Ottawa Parliament had already permitted Canadian passports for humanitarian purposes. We immediately asked for six spare elements for six enclosures to provide us redundancy. We additionally asked the CIA's "escorts" for 2 additional passports. The Canadians agreed to spare elements, however they refused to offer us two additional passports as a result of Parliament had not accredited the exception to passport legislation to cowl the occupational intelligence officers. He thought that one of many proposed aliases was a considerably semiotic voice – not a good idea in a Muslim country. We chose another identify shortly, and I cast the signature of an acceptable hand-writing amongst current passport-pictures. This trick was principally showmanship, nevertheless it helped to strengthen our credentials as specialists.

Next we mentioned the duvet legends. We explained the totally different perspectives between the group action and the individual cowl, the need to acquire extra details about passengers and our intention to send an official or officers to Tehran to make a remaining probe of supervision and to satisfy six housing help.

This gave me the chance to attempt the thought of ​​a canopy web page that had occurred to me at night time before residence in Maryland once I was packing. Cowl legends are the perfect when their info intently follows the consumer's actual experience or background. If potential, the duvet must be uninteresting enough to not turn unnecessary interest. On this case, nevertheless, I believed that we should always try to design such an exotic cowl that no one might imagine getting used for operational functions.

Hollywood Consulting

Beforehand Head of OTS Disguise I was concerned with many entertainment consultants. Our make-up skilled, Jerome Calloway, was a technical makeup professional who had acquired a number of awards. (He lately acquired the CIA Intelligence Medal, one of many few who have been so honored.) His motivation to assist us was purely patriotic.

We had already taken the hostage crisis in line with Jerom. Every week after the purchase, I had invited him to Washington to assist put together a crisis-related various. He, a camouflage group, and I was working around the clock to complete this feature in five days.

Once we obtained an order to cease this firm, Jerome returned to California. Before leaving, he confirmed his want to help in the rescue of our diplomat in any means. As quickly as I checked the Ottawa lodge, I referred to as Jerome residence. He did not have a clue about what I'm working on. I simply stated that I was in Ottawa and that I had to understand how many people would have studied the movie production beforehand.

Jerome replied that this might require about eight individuals, together with manufacturing manager, operator, inventive director, transport supervisor, scriptwriter, affiliate, business manager, and supervisor. Their objective can be to take a look at the capturing website from an inventive, logistic and economic perspective.

Associated company represented financial supporters. The business supervisor was primarily concerned with financial institution preparations; As much as 10 days of capturing might require tens of millions of dollars in the local financial system. The transport manager leased quite a lot of automobiles from limousines to move the celebs to the heavy gear wanted to construct the collection. The manufacturing manager did all of it together. Different group members have been technicians who created the manuscript of the movie.

Since making films is usually often known as an uncommon business, most people would not be stunned that a Hollywood manufacturing firm would journey around the globe.

Cover Choices

Suggesting such a canopy for many secret features can be out of the question, but I felt it could be good for this activity. I tried the thought of ​​Lon, the contact of our ministry, and he was in it. In fact, it was not suitable with the Canadian passport. Movie corporations sometimes include a world character set. The Canadian film business was nicely established.

We discussed the movement picture cowl choice and another concept or two. Lon was additionally desirous about the problem with the duvet; he had an concept of ​​a gaggle of food economists who may see traveling around the third world. The Secretary of State had already given us a proposal for a gaggle of unemployed faculty academics in search of jobs in international faculties all over the world. We felt obliged to mention this concept, although we weren’t too captivated with it.

We’ve suspended our conferences and held comply with-up discussions. We then sent the cable to the CIA headquarters to showcase our achievements, including discussions on deck choices. This was the primary time we reported on the thought of ​​the movie

Throughout the following week (now on the finish of December) I moved between Ottawa and Washington. The OTS workforce began to set up Ottawa to organize paperwork and canopy objects in a Canadian bag in Tehran. The OTS GTS Group continued to collect info on Iran's border control. All related international messages have been despatched and answered with a Flash indicator, CIA's highest priority.

The senior CIA leaders did not reject the Hollywood choice in its entirety when it acknowledged that it might have advantages beyond six rescue problems. The thought was:

The thought of ​​utilizing paramilitary means to rescue hostages at the US Embassy was inconceivable because of the geographical location of Tehran. The duvet of the movie will help us strategy the Iranian Ministry of National Steerage with a proposal to take video in or near Tehran. The ministry's process was to struggle damaging publicity for Iran by selling tourism. Tehran can also be in search of ways to alleviate a number of the cash circulate problems brought on by the US freezing of Iranian belongings in the USA. Movie manufacturing in Iranian soil might be an financial shot on the arm, and it might be a great PR software to counteract dangerous publicity brought on by hostages.

Relative "moderate" – Abulhassan Bani-Sadr – was elected president of Iran, and we thought it was potential to sell him on these financial points after which get a chance to succeed in agreement on the novel teams of the system. If so, the Delta penetration cover (getting ready for the embassy hostage rescue operation) as a collection of movies for development staff and cameramen was natural. We imagined that it could be attainable to cover weapons and other materials on film gear

Formation of a film firm

Initially of January of 1 weekend, between Ottawa tours and NE-periods, I made a fast go to to California. Bringing $ 10,000 in money, first of quite a lot of black bag deliveries that have been designed to create money. I got here on Friday night time and met Jerom and considered one of his partners in a collection of manufacturing amenities that they had booked for our purposes on the previous Columbia studio in Hollywood. I had invited the CIA contract officer to test the cash sales and comply with it as a package deal and as an auditor through the operation. It takes two years to clear all accounts in these issues.

Our production "Studio Six Productions" was established in mid-January with 4 days, together with the weekend. Our workplace had previously been occupied by Michael Douglas, who had just produced a Chinese language syndrome.

Jerome and his companions have been masters of the Hollywood system. That they had begun to use 'fat' and call for reputation earlier than I got here. Easy issues like putting in phones have been meant to take weeks, however we had the whole lot we would have liked for paper clips on the fourth day.

We organized full web page advertisements for Selection and The Hollywood Reporter, two commerce paperwork which might be most necessary for corporate campaigns. We tried to keep Jerom's properly-recognized identify hidden, but the "shops" have been the recent path of their suppliers, and the word was that there was something huge in the business.

When the press observed that Jerome was in contact with this unbiased manufacturing company, individuals and extra press followed. Our try and hold the key of Jerom's participation actually added credibility to the supposed film maker. In addition, Hollywood was the perfect place to create and decompress a serious complicated in a single day. Mafia and lots of shady overseas buyers have been recognized for Hollywood's manufacturing, which is usually made and lost. It’s also a perfect place for cash laundering

Selecting a script

When Studio Six Productions was based, we dealt with the issue of recognizing an appropriate script. Jerome and I have been sitting around his kitchen table discussing what the topic ought to be. Since Star Warshad did it only recently, many scientific, fantasy and superhero films have been produced. We decided that we would have liked a script with sci-fi, Center East and mythological parts. Also, one thing concerning the glory of Islam can be good. Jerome reminded me of a current script that would serve our objective, and he pulled it out of stacks of manuscripts delivered at his discretion. an individual might interpret its complicated storyline. The script was based mostly on the award-profitable sci-fi novel. Producers had additionally planned a huge number of development, which later turned a serious theme park. That they had rewarded the well-known comedian artist to organize collection concepts. This gave us good "eyelids" to increase the production area.

We determined to pack our borrowed manuals by decorating it with the suitable emblem and headlines. The only copy of the manuscript we’d like can be for me to help Iranian representatives in my position as manufacturing manager – and only if we have been questioned at Tehran airport



Jerome and I selected our identify for our movie. We would have liked something infectious about japanese tradition or mythology. After many entrepreneurs we hit it! During our 10-year association, he proved to be an awesome story and joker. He once informed a gaggle of the "knock-knock-knock" phrase "Argo" in the road of the prophet.

This word turned an inner camouflage group identification signal and a battle dice. We used it to break the tensions that always shaped once we worked for lengthy hours in troublesome circumstances, getting ready for essential actions. Jerome remembered this. He additionally identified that the identify was born from mythology. He appeared at the definition of Argon and confirmed it as the identify of the ship where Jason and Argonaut sailed to rescue the Golden Fleece from most of the main dragons that held it in the holy garden. Good! This accurately described the state of affairs in Iran.

I shortly designed the Argo emblem, which we used in full-web page advertisements in shops. The advertisements declared that "Studio Six Productions introduces" Argo "… Cosmic Smuggling … The Story of Teresa Harris" (Teresa Harris was the alias we chose for our story advisor; it will be used by one of the six ready for our arrival in Tehran.)

Inviting the Iranian Consulate

Throughout my final California day, I made our first business call from our studio workplaces to the Iranian Consulate in San Francisco utilizing my sub-topic. I stated that I might ask for a visa and directions on the procedures for obtaining permission to shoot in a residential space in Tehran. My eight companions would include six Canadians, Europeans and Latin People.

Latin America can be the OTS Certification Authority "Julio", which was despatched to Europe. His tongues have been Spanish, French and Arabic, and he had considerable exfiltration expertise. We had selected the documentation produced by OTS as a legend to the legend as a producer of spectacular South American supporters. I might be touring in a European passport produced by OTS.

The decision to the Iranian Consulate was a laundry. Officers steered that we apply to the closest Iranian consulate in the world. This was not shocking, as many Iranian diplomats moved from Shah's administration, and most weren’t positive of their current standing and the authorities liable for issuing visas.

I left "red eye" that night time with all the traps of the Hollywood sort, together with Matchbooks at Brown Derby, the place Studio Six Productions organized a farewell dinner for me

Last technical preparations

Again to Washington numerous efforts to install Iran still full. Our plan of motion for rescuing six was carried out at the working ranges of the OTS and NE divisions, however it was not but coordinated or accepted by the policy makers

My fast process was to participate in the ultimate technical preparations with three coverage. I had collected a variety of examples of paperwork supporting our production social gathering, which OTS graphics specialists brought to repeat our celebration wallets.

Joe Missouri, a documentary skilled who had been on the primary trip to Ottawa, had remained at that time to barter supporting paperwork to help Canada's legend. This had required a high-degree particular permit from the Canadian authorities, which Missouri managed to get. This was fairly an achievement for a younger officer.

Thus far, Joe had returned to Washington and acquired the Argo portfolio. Joe had all the time been a typewriter artist. He took on the roles of members of the varied producer events and redefined them in the form of a resume. This clever software offered info periods on every matter that could possibly be thought-about open in the manufacturing manager's portfolio. When completed, this portfolio contained all the things wanted to sell our most advanced investment financial institution from our film.

Every week after I returned to California, the US and Canada document and camouflage packages have been prepared for a Canadian bag. The Ottawa OTS group had additionally worked on Canadian paperwork relating to passports. We had 12 Canadian passports and 12 US passports that have been unnecessary for each nationalities. The Canadians made the ultimate paperwork in Tehran for the final challenge if Julio or I didn’t attain the Canadian Embassy or appear afterwards. Julio and I want to complement a second set of passports in Tehran, giving us last minute flexibility on the spot.

A very detailed guide to using documents and last info on subjects was additionally prepared for straightforward referencing by non-specialists. Airline tickets have been included and seemed around the globe. Joe and I had discovered heel pins and baggage labels with Canadian maple leaf design; these too have been a part of the collection.

A assessment of the US doc package deal at night time earlier than we left for Ottawa to load a Canadian bag revealed a probably embarrassing drawback. Canadians managed to accumulate Canadian language documents. The power of the CIA to obtain comparable backstopped alias paperwork was too sluggish and we could not get hold of an inner CIA license for these subjects. The Canadians turned terrible in US doc packages. The truth is, the one purpose for sending US alias documents was that one of many ranges of the coverage degree was involved in operational planning. The plan continues to be not authorised or co-ordinated in our own authorities

If our Canadian colleagues record the documents once we downloaded the bag, we look foolish. This bothered us. As quickly as we arrived at the Embassy of america in Ottawa the subsequent morning, we made a tour there by amassing business playing cards and different wallets.

Because it turned out, downloading the "bag" didn't happen to look intently at our document packages, so we didn't keep away from confusion. Itse aiheet saisivat lopullisen äänestyksen, kun ne esitettäisiin valitsemalla kaksi passia, kolme peitekertomusta ja mahdollisuus siirtyä yksin tai yhdessä. Koska OTS-kollegani ja minä lopulta esiteltaisimme valinnat Teheranissa, voisimme vaikuttaa suuresti päätökseen.

Kanadan pussi tai pussi osoittautui tyynyliinan kokoiseksi, joka oli tuskin tarpeeksi suuri meidän exfiltraatiopakkaukselle asiakirjoja ja peittää materiaaleja. Kanadalaisilla kuriiriläisillä oli ilmeisesti paljon helpompaa aikaa kuin tyypillinen Yhdysvaltain osasto-kuriiri, joka yleensä mukana useiden postilaatikkokokoisten pussien kanssa. Kanadan kuriiri saa useless yhden pussin, ja hän pitää sitä aina hänen kanssaan. Jotkut ylimääräisistä naamiointimateriaaleistamme oli jätettävä pois pussista Teheraniin.

Tämän viimeisen matkan aikana Ottawaan tuli selväksi, että kanadalaiset menettivät kärsivällisyyttä amerikkalaisten kanssa. Emme ole vielä saaneet hallituksen lopullista päätöstä toimintasuunnitelmastamme. He olivat tehneet kaikenlaisia ​​myönnytyksiä epäröimättä. What was taking us so long to maneuver? They insisted that ultimate approval of all plans be completed as soon as potential. I promised to send that word back immediately.

Inexperienced Mild

Back at the Embassy, I prepared an extended cable outlining every detail of the operation as I envisioned it. This was exactly the type of abstract we might ship in before launching an exfiltration from a overseas location. It was barely irregular for me to ship this from Ottawa because the plan that the Canadians and I needed to be accredited.

I caught hell for that cable once I returned to Washington, but then was advised it was a positive piece of work. The plan acquired ultimate approval inside two days, and our supplies have been en route to Tehran.

Press Probes

A disturbing bit of data recognized to most of us involved in this operation had come to mild weeks earlier than. Certain members of the information media had found out that the fuzzy info being offered to the press by our State Department spokesman in Washington relating to the exact quantity and identities of the hostages being held in the Embassy compound was a smokescreen designed to cover the truth that six diplomats have been nonetheless at giant in Tehran.

The Canadians have been conscious that the Washington correspondent of Montreal’s La Presse had already referred to as on the Canadian Ambassador in Washington to voice his suspicions. The Ambassador requested him to take a seat on the knowledge till after the exfiltration, promising him an exclusive on the story from the Canadian Authorities.

Ambassador Taylor’s spouse, in the meantime, had acquired a cryptic telephone call at their residence in Tehran. The caller did not determine himself, and he requested for one of the six by identify. Two of the six have been staying with the Taylors, and the call was for one among them, Joseph Stafford. The opposite 4 have been staying in the residence of the Canadian Deputy Chief of Mission, John Sheardown. The Canadians saw their state of affairs in Tehran turning into tenuous. They began making discreet preparations to close down their Embassy before it too was overrun.

Shifting to Europe

The subsequent part of the operation occurred in Europe. The OTS store there had been debriefing travelers, accumulating knowledge, and acquiring exemplars of the Iranian visas and entry cachets required for our up-to-date intelligence on Iranian document controls. Julio was gearing up his alias document package deal. My alias documentation was also being prepared there.

Julio and I planned to hyperlink up in Europe for our ultimate launch into Tehran, tentatively set for 23 and 24 January. We meant to use for Iranian visas individually in European cities. In case neither of us was successful, I had already arranged a fallback place. One of the CIA officers in Europe had an OTS-issued alias passport he used for operational conferences. Early in our knowledge collection part, we had instructed him to obtain an Iranian visa in this passport so we might have an exemplar. He received the visa. If needed, I deliberate to borrow his alias and have an analogous alias passport issued to me with a replica of his legally obtained visa.

Visa Purposes

On Monday 21 January, Julio left for Geneva, Switzerland, on his alias passport to apply for an Iranian visa. I left Washington on the same day for Europe. I used to be traveling on my true-identify US official documents, but I was hand-carrying the Studio Six portfolio and certain collateral materials to fill out our documents packages.

I arrived in Europe on the morning of 22 January, and Julio returned from his journey that afternoon together with his Iranian visa. I nonetheless had to acquire a visa in my alias passport. I deliberate to drive to Bonn the subsequent day and to use there. I hoped the Iranians there would difficulty it in a number of hours, as that they had for Julio in Geneva.

We acquired a Flash message from Ottawa that afternoon. Our exfiltration kits had arrived in Tehran, however Ambassador Taylor and certainly one of his aides had reviewed the materials and discovered a mistake! The handwritten Farsi fill-in on the Iranian visas showed a date of concern someday in the longer term. The Farsi linguist aiding our staff in Ottawa had misinterpreted the Farsi calendar.

We fired a message back by means of Ottawa assuring Taylor this was no drawback. The OTS officers might simply alter the mistake once they arrived in Tehran. The fallacy in this was that the mistake was in the set of passports ready for use by Taylor if we did not arrive for some cause. If this was the case, a comply with-up message can be ready with rigorously worded instructions for Taylor on tips on how to right the mistake.

On Wednesday 23 January, one of many OTS officers and I went to Bonn. I had my alias documentation and the Studio Six portfolio. I had altered my appearance barely with a simple disguise. I was additionally sporting a inexperienced turtleneck sweater, which I might continue to put on by way of the run of the operation.

As we approached the Iranian Embassy in Bonn, I famous that the Embassy of my ostensible country of origin was nearby. If the Iranians selected to take action, it might be perfectly proper for them to send me to my very own Embassy for a letter of introduction earlier than the visa was granted. I was dropped off down the block from the Iranian Embassy, and I walked again to the doorway to the consular part.

A half-dozen visa applicants have been sitting in the reception space filling out purposes. A handful of young Iranian “Revolutionary Guards” in civilian clothes have been standing around scrutinizing everyone. It was then that I noticed I had left the portfolio in the automotive once I was dropped off, however I had my alias passport and different personal id documents. I crammed out the varieties and went to the clerk’s window to provide them to the consular official.

In response to the official’s well mannered questions, I stated, in my greatest accent, that the purpose of my visit to Tehran was to satisfy with business associates on the Sheraton Lodge in Tehran; they have been flying in from Hong Kong at present and have been expecting me. I also stated that I didn’t acquire a visa in my very own country as a result of I was in Germany on enterprise once I acquired the telex concerning the assembly in Tehran. I acquired my visa in about 15 minutes.

Presidential OK

Our plan for entry into Iran was for me to go away that evening (23 January), and to arrive at Mehrabad Airport the subsequent day at 5 a.m. Julio would comply with the identical itinerary 24 hours later. If something happened to certainly one of us en route, the opposite may nonetheless get by way of.

As quickly as I acquired again from Bonn, I sent a Flash message to Washington and Ottawa that I used to be ready. I acquired approval to launch inside the hour. Thirty minutes later, nevertheless, I acquired one other message from Washington directing me to delay my departure as a result of the President needed to offer ultimate approval and was being briefed at that second.

After 30 minutes, I acquired the presidential OK in a terse message which stated, “President has just approved the Finding. You may proceed on your mission to Tehran. Good luck.” When it comes to approvals, this case was the last word cliffhanger.

Getting into Tehran

Julio and I had an particularly worthwhile probability assembly simply earlier than I left for the airport that night. We had a chance to satisfy with one other Company officer who had been touring in and out of Tehran in help of the hostage rescue operation. He would finally be chargeable for creating the inside help mechanism. He had been in the “business” since serving with OSS and parachuting into Europe during World Conflict II. He clearly was a grasp of the game, and gave us some useful insights concerning the state of affairs at Mehrabad and in Tehran. This strengthened our confidence and gave us a better concept about how you can behave.

Julio and I each arrived in Mehrabad at 5 a.m. on Friday 25 January. (I used to be a day late due to delays brought on by dangerous weather.) Immigration controls have been simple, and the disembarkation/embarkation type was still being used. The distinction I famous this time from my earlier experience with Mehrabad immigration authorities was that the officer was knowledgeable in uniform as an alternative of an untrained civilian irregular. The immigration officers had gone into hiding at the start of the revolution. It appeared that that they had now come again to work.

At entry, in contrast to my last go to, customs and safety personnel were not overly concerned about foreigners. Due to Iran’s stability-of-cost problems, they have been especially interested in Iranian citizens leaving with valuables like nice Persian rugs or gold. The economic state of affairs had grow to be worse in the previous few months, and we might anticipate the exit controls to be tighter.

We took a taxi to the Sheraton Lodge and checked in. Our subsequent step was to go to the Swissair workplace downtown to reconfirm eight airline reservations for Monday morning to Zurich. In an exfiltration operation, it is very important reconfirm your area on the airplane for the day you’re supposed to go away. As a result of it is troublesome to convey the themes to the purpose the place they’ve the braveness to walk into the airport, in the event that they then should backtrack because their flight didn’t arrive or had mechanical problems, or their reservations have been lost, it might be doubly onerous for them to rise up their nerve subsequent time. We chose Swissair due to its report of environment friendly and reliable service.

The Swissair office was not open but. From my earlier journey to Tehran, I knew that the US Embassy was a number of blocks down the street and that the Canadian Embassy additionally was presupposed to be nearby.

It appeared eerie approaching the US Embassy compound figuring out that more than 50 People have been being held inside, together with CIA officers. The high partitions have been adorned with propaganda banners and posters celebrating the revolution. Although we knew our colleagues would expertise some rough going during their captivity, we also knew there was nothing we might do to help on the time. We had to maintain our attention on the task at hand.

Canadian Embassy

Julio and I began in search of the Canadian Embassy. Though our map showed it to be situated immediately across a slender aspect road from the US Embassy, the constructing we discovered was the Swedish Embassy.

There was an Iranian guard on the entrance who did not perceive our questions and was perplexed by our road map. Just then, a young Iranian came along. He spoke to the guard, apparently asking him who have been these confused-wanting Westerners. He then spoke to Julio in German. The guy was well mannered and useful. He wrote down an tackle in Farsi, hailed a taxi for us, and gave the handle to the taxi driver, who took us a considerable method across city to the Canadian Embassy.

Ambassador Taylor, who had been expecting us to arrive someday that morning, was ready upstairs in his outer workplace. We didn’t instantly acknowledge him as the Ambassador. He was a tall, lean, slightly young, pleasant particular person dressed in Western jeans and a plaid shirt and sporting cowboy boots. He wore “mod” glasses and had a full salt-and-pepper Afro-fashion haircut. This unbelievable-wanting diplomat greeted us warmly.

Ken introduced us to his secretary, Laverna, a small, elderly woman who was nice and cheerful. During a brief assembly in Ken’s office, he explained that the majority members of his employees already had quietly departed Tehran. There can be solely 5 Canadians left after his family departed that afternoon. The remaining five, including himself, would depart on Monday 28 January for London shortly after the Swissair flight we hoped to board at 7:30 a.m. with the houseguests. Early on Monday, he deliberate to tell the Overseas Ministry by diplomatic letter that the Canadian Embassy can be closed briefly.

We described briefly the things we would have liked to perform over the subsequent few days, starting with a meeting with the houseguests so we might temporary them on the plan and assess their means to carry it off. We all agreed the meeting would happen at 5 p.m. on the suburban residence of John Sheardown, the Embassy’s second officer, the place four of the six houseguests had been hiding since November.

At this initial assembly with Ken, we discovered that at the very least two extra ambassadors in the native diplomatic corps and some of their employees also have been involved in hiding and caring for the six. Ken and these different ambassadors have been additionally visiting often with Bruce Laingen, the American chargé, who was underneath “house protection” in the Overseas Ministry. Laingen, one other Embassy employees officer, and the Embassy safety officer have been to spend your complete disaster dwelling in the rooms of the Overseas Ministry, where that they had gone to protest the demonstrations on the gates of the US Embassy simply as it was about to be overrun. Laingen was free to depart Iran any time, however he refused to abandon his colleagues.

We requested and acquired Ken’s permission to ship a message to Washington by way of Ottawa, confirming our arrival in Iran and informing everyone involved that we deliberate to satisfy with the six that evening. We have been also introduced to Roger Lucy, who was house-sitting with the four People staying at Sheardown’s home. Roger spoke Farsi fluently; it was he who found our mistake on the visas.

Claude Gauthier was another member of Ken’s employees. He was a burly French Canadian chargeable for the Embassy’s bodily security. Claude earned the nickname of “Sledge” during these last days because he was destroying categorised communications gear with a 12-pound sledgehammer. Everyone on the Embassy was pleasant and casual; they seemed amused by our enterprise.

When it was time to go to satisfy the six, Julio and I left with Claude. Ken had left earlier to see his spouse off at Mehrabad and to select up the Staffords, the two houseguests who have been staying with him. We all arrived at the Sheardown home at about the same time. The home was on the outskirts of city in a properly-to-do neighborhood. It was palatial, with a excessive wall surrounding it.

Assembly the Six

The six houseguests rushed to satisfy us as we entered the home. They appeared in good spirits and have been joyful to see us. We spent the primary jiffy getting acquainted. The six have been two young married couples, Joseph and Kathleen Stafford and Mark and Cora Lijek, and two single males, Bob Anders and Lee Schatz. Anders, about 50, had been head of the consular part, and the two couples had labored for him. Schatz was a tall younger man who was the agriculture attaché. Those from the Consulate had escaped out the again door to the street when the militants had been breaking in the front door. Schatz had had an office in a building throughout the street from the Embassy, and he had gone on to the Swedish Embassy, where he hid for every week. The Swedish flag was his blanket.

I informed them concerning the three cowl stories that we have been providing for his or her consideration. I also explained what needed to be completed in the course of the subsequent two days and the way we might proceed via the airport on Monday. There was considerable discussion concerning the mechanics of the controls and the way we might reply if questioned about our presence in Tehran. Only one exhibited nervousness concerning the dangers involved.

Finally, I instructed the six to go into the dining room to debate amongst themselves whether they needed to go to the airport in a gaggle or individually and which cover story they most popular. I waited about 15 minutes after which walked in on them. They have been debating the questions, and I distracted them by doing a little bit of sleight-of-hand with two sugar cubes. I had used this trick many occasions as an example how one can arrange a deception operation and to overcome obvious obstacles. It helped to influence reluctant topics that they have been involved with professionals in the art of deception. The six determined to go as a gaggle, utilizing the Studio Six cover.

The six showed us around the home, the place four of them had handed almost three months in a good quantity of comfort. The large, nicely-furnished house had a kitchen with sufficient gear for a contemporary restaurant. The People had spent a great bit of their time planning and cooking gourmand dinners for themselves and the few outsiders they noticed. Additionally they had turn out to be masters at the recreation of Scrabble.

As we have been being shown round, one of many different ambassadors and his attaché, Richard, arrived. That they had visited the houseguests more than as soon as. They needed to satisfy the CIA officers who had come to supervise the escape of the six individuals that they had come to know nicely. Each these males have been to prove useful to us.

When it was time for Julio and me to go back to our lodge, Claude dropped us down the block from the lodge. He would decide us up the subsequent morning to take us to the Canadian Embassy. On Saturday, we needed to put the finishing touches on the Canadian passports and send our last plan of motion to Ottawa and Washington for approval.

The Final Arrangements

The subsequent two days handed swiftly. We spent most of Saturday filling in the passports with the suitable entries, together with the Iranian visas issued in Canada. The visa exemplar had been collected only just lately for us by a Canadian pal in Ottawa. It was a better match for the ostensible journey itinerary of the Studio Six staff. Their cover legend and airline tickets confirmed them arriving in Tehran from Hong Kong at approximately the same hour that Julio and I had arrived from Zurich. Their flight had truly arrived on that day and time, and passengers disembarking would have been processed by the identical immigration officers who had processed us. Consequently, the Iranian entry cachets stamped in our passports served as prime exemplars for these we entered in the passports of the six.

The worst factor that may occur when making false passport entries is to forge the signature of an immigration officer on an ostensible arrival cachet after which discover that this similar particular person is about to stamp you overseas. He would know that he was not at work the day your passport says you arrived. You need to understand how all these methods work.

The attaché, Richard, was dispatched to the airport to select up a stack of the disembarkation/embarkation types from an airline contact. Julio would full the Farsi notations on enough of these, and every of the six would write in his or her false biographic info and sign in the brand new aliases. Again, the varieties we had acquired and crammed in on arrival have been our models.

We unfold out our forgery supplies on a desk in Ken Taylor’s office. He spent most of his day making last-minute preparations to shut the Embassy, sitting nearby and listening to our banter about some nice level of creating false documents, or consulting with us on some element of the preparations for the exfiltration. Claude was wielding his sledgehammer somewhere in the constructing and burning and shredding categorised paper.

On Sunday morning, I completed an extended cable outlining the operations plan, and the message was transmitted to Ottawa. One of the particulars in the plan defined that:

. . . the six Canadians from Studio Six had referred to as on the local Canadian Ambassador hoping that they might organize for an appointment with the Ministry of National Steerage to present their proposal to use the native market for 10 days of capturing “Argo”. . . The Canadian Ambasssador has advised them to hunt a location elsewhere if potential, but has provided one of the Embassy’s vacant residences as guest quarters . . . They heeded his recommendation, and after wanting round a couple of days, have determined to go away Iran . . .

This offered details that paralleled the true details. It also gave us the option of bringing the six to the airport on Monday in an Embassy car with an Embassy driver, thereby solving the issue of discovering reliable transportation to the airport. Laverna then might additionally reconfirm the airline reservations, which might be a traditional service carried out for Canadian visitors of the Embassy.

Novice Actors

Every thing was in good order by Sunday night time 27 January, once we reconvened on the Sheardown house. The six houseguests have been impressed with their documentation packages, and we have been impressed with the transformation of their appearances and personalities. On Friday night time, we had given every of them their cowl legend as prepared by Joe Missouri in the Studio Six portfolio. We also had offered them with disguise materials and props that may assist fill out their roles.

That they had scrounged garments from each other and restyled their photographs to look more “Hollywood.” Every of them was having great fun enjoying their half and hamming it up. Probably the most dramatic change was made by the somewhat distinguished and conservative Bob Anders. Now, his snow-white hair was a “mod” blow dry. He was sporting tight trousers with no pockets and a blue silk shirt unbuttoned down the entrance together with his chest hair cradling a gold chain and medallion. Together with his topcoat resting throughout his shoulders like a cape, he strolled across the room with the aptitude of a Hollywood dandy.

The mental attitudes of the six have been constructive. We started briefing them on the small print of their ostensible prior journey and arrival in Iran. They soon seemed to have grasped these particulars fairly properly. We warned them that there was to be a hostile interrogation staged after dinner to test their potential to answer the questions beneath stress. Roger Lucy volunteered to be the interrogator.

Ken Taylor soon arrived with a solution from Ottawa to our cable. Apparently, the policymakers in Ottawa and Washington have been pleased with our proposed plan of motion. He stated the last line of their cable was, “See you later, exfiltrator.”

Shortly, two senior pleasant-country ambassadors arrived–the same two who have been talked about above as having been actively involved in efforts to hide and help the six People. The six served a sumptuous seven-course dinner with effective wine, champagne, coffee, and liqueurs. I informed them about Jerome and the Argo knock-knock joke. Everyone took up the Argo cry. I also informed everyone that they might be tempted to sell the story to some writer after the operation was over. I admonished them to not yield to temptation, because Julio and I needed to remain in enterprise to assist others in the longer term. They apparently took this advice significantly.

After dinner, Roger appeared in army fatigues, complete with hat, sun shades, jackboots, and swagger stick. The interrogations started. The interrogations impressed a number of the more overconfident members of the group with the significance of remembering the small print of their cowl stories and gave them a taste of what might be in store for them on the airport.

Through the interrogations, one of many ambassadors asked me to step into one other room. He informed me that, during one of many visits the three ambassadors had made to the Overseas Ministry to satisfy with Bruce Laingen and his aides, the US Embassy safety officer had pulled him aside to confide that he was planning his personal escape. He had already made one trip outdoors the constructing, and he asked for a glass cutter. The ambassador requested my recommendation concerning the glass cutter and if he also needs to give him a gun. I stated “yes” to the glass cutter however “no” to the gun. I thanked him for this info, and advised him we might be back in touch on these subjects if more info was required.

Earlier than we left at midnight, we made remaining arrangements for getting to the airport. I might go 30 minutes forward of the others with Richard, who would decide me up at the lodge at 3 a.m. We might affirm that each one was regular at the airport and that Swissair was en route from Zurich. I might clear customs and verify in at the airline counter, the place I might wait so the others might see me as they entered the airport as a sign that each one was in order. Julio would accompany them to the airport in the Embassy van and cleared the path by way of customs.

Day of Departure

I used to be woke up in my darkish lodge room the subsequent morning by the telephone ringing subsequent to my bed. It was Richard calling from the foyer. It was 3 a.m., and I ought to have been up at 2:15. My watch alarm had gone off, and I should have slept by means of it. I rushed to bathe and gown, arriving in the foyer about 15 minutes later.

Mehrabad is like many Middle Japanese or South Asian airports. Though of pretty trendy development, the individuals who move by means of as vacationers or hold around to greet or see travelers off make an orderly transit unattainable. This was one more reason for choosing the 7:30 a.m. Swissair flight. If we arrived on the airport at 5 a.m., the probabilities have been the airport can be much less chaotic. Also, the officials manning the controls may nonetheless be sleepy, and a lot of the Revolutionary Guards would still be in their beds. This was the case that Monday morning, 28 January 1980.

As Clean as Silk

Richard and I proceeded via the customs verify to the Swissair counter. There were few other vacationers, and the airport staff have been nonetheless groggy. The Swissair clerk confirmed that the flight would arrive at 5 a.m. I stood at my prearranged spot to attend for the remainder of our social gathering. Richard went to seek out the supervisor of one other airline, who was a helpful pal to have at the airport. He had already offered the clean embarkation types. We might have had to gather these ourselves on the best way in and had, in reality, picked up several extras, but the manager had given us lots to cowl any errors when filling them out. It’s uncommon to have an inside contact at an airport for an exfiltration.

Soon the others arrived, and Julio led the best way by way of customs. The six had had problem placing collectively an honest collection of bags and clothes. They seemed to be traveling a bit mild for Hollywood varieties on an around-the-world trip. They appeared shiny and keen, nevertheless, they usually had plastered their luggage with the Canadian maple leaf stickers we had found in Ottawa.

After that they had cleared customs and checked in at the airline counter, we all proceeded to the immigration/emigration checkpoint. Lee Schatz was so eager that he had gotten approach ahead of us and was already clearing the checkpoint, with no apparent problem. The others began presenting their documents and the yellow embarkation varieties. I waited for every to clear in case one acquired into hassle. I might become involved shortly as the production manager liable for the properly-being of his pre-production crew. I was armed with the Argo portfolio and would overwhelm anybody standing in the best way with Hollywood speak. The Iranian official at the checkpoint couldn’t have cared much less. He stamped each of us out and collected the yellow types. One yellow type floated off his counter and was far away on the ground. When nobody was wanting, I picked it up and stuck it among my papers. It was the shape we had cast for Bob Anders.

We have been in the departure lounge, and we nonetheless had to undergo the ultimate security examine before we arrived at the waiting space by our gate. The six have been wandering round in the present outlets like atypical vacationers. A couple of fatigues-clad Revolutionary Guards have been scrutinizing everybody.

Richard appeared with the airline supervisor. That they had been watching us clear the checkpoint. I shook palms with the manager, and he asked me why we had not booked his airline; he would have arranged for pink-carpet remedy. I advised him to stand by as a result of we’d nonetheless want his flight if Swissair had any drawback. I observed the 2 elderly women from the Canadian Embassy starting to arrive in the departure lounge for his or her flight. Ken Taylor and the lads of the Embassy would go away later in the day after we had departed.

Last-Minute Delay

The Swissair flight was referred to as for the first time, and we proceeded by means of the safety examine into the small glassed-in room by our gate. We have been just a brief bus journey from the plane. Then the PA system introduced that the Swissair flight was delayed for departure because of mechanical issues! I reassured our social gathering and walked again via the security checkpoint to seek out Richard and his good friend.

The departure lounge was filling up. Several flights have been arriving. I questioned whether I ought to change to one in every of these if Swissair was to be delayed too long.

I found Richard and his good friend. That they had already spoken to Swissair and discovered the mechanical drawback was minor. We might not be delayed too lengthy, perhaps an hour. We discussed the options of switching flights, however we decided that that may be too difficult and that it will call pointless consideration to us. I returned to our gate and reported this to the others.

We have been all a bit on edge. The roving guards continued their random interrogations of different travelers. We made small speak and tried to not appeal to any consideration.

After a tense hour, the Swissair flight was referred to as. Everybody was all of a sudden anxious and excited concerning the prospect of pulling it off.


The bus journey was temporary and as we began up the ramp to board the airplane, Bob Anders punched me in the arm and stated, “You arranged for everything, didn’t you?” He was pointing at the identify lettered throughout the nostril of the airplane. The identify of our airplane was “Argau,” a region in Switzerland. We took it a sign that every thing can be all right. We waited till the aircraft took off and had cleared Iranian airspace earlier than we might give the thumbs up and order Bloody Marys.

By lunchtime, Julio and I have been sitting in the Zurich airport restaurant waiting for our connecting flight to Germany. A few of the six dropped down and kissed the tarmac of the Zurich runway after they came down the ramp. The opposite passengers seen this as fairly strange conduct.

US State Department representatives met us on the different aspect of Swiss immigration and customs. The six have been whisked away in a van to a mountain lodge; Julio and I have been left standing in the parking zone. I had loaned one among them my topcoat as a result of it was chilly. It was US Authorities property; Julio and I had purchased European-fashion clothing, topcoats, and footwear for our journey to Tehran. I by no means retrieved the topcoat, and later was admonished by our Finances and Fiscal individuals once I did my accounting. Simply another typical TDY. All part of the job.


A number of days later, the story hit the streets in Montreal. I was nonetheless in Germany when the story came to visit the Armed Forces radio station. I arrived in New York two days later, and at the airport I picked up a replica of The New York Publish with the headline, “Canada to the Rescue!”

Once I boarded the flight in Germany, I was carrying a big tin of Iranian caviar that the Staffords had bought for me in the departure lounge in Mehrabad. I requested the stewardess if she would maintain it cold for me. She stated, “No, it is either Russian or Iranian, and we don’t like either!” The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan in December, and President Carter had withdrawn from the Moscow Olympics.

Chapter 21 of the Pelletier guide, The Canadian Caper, coated the impression of our success in Canada and the USA.

To the Embassy employees’s heroism was added a sometimes Canadian touch of modesty. It was essential, stated Ken Taylor in an interview later, for the People to say thanks. . . . They did greater than that. They went wild. It was the first excellent news after three months of nationwide trauma. . . . The maple leaf [Canadian flag] was flown in Oklahoma City, in Livonia, Michigan, and in 100 different American towns and cities. Billboards sprang up all through the American countryside with big letters that spelled Thank You, Canada. A serious US bank bought a full-web page ad in The New York Occasions to commemorate the Canadian deed.

Jerome took out an advert in his native Burbank paper which stated, “Thanks, Canada, we needed that….”

Ken Taylor turned an on the spot hero. He was described as “the Scarlet Pimpernel of diplomacy.” He returned to Ottawa, coated in glory. Subsequently, he was concerned in a whirlwind tour of appearances, some with the six. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, acquired a Congressional Medal from the USA, and was awarded a number of honorary levels. He lived his cowl all the best way.

An ironic coda: by the point Studio Six folded several weeks after the rescue, we had acquired 26 scripts, including some potential moneymakers. One was from Steven Spielberg.

CIA A Basic Case of Deception
CIA Goes Hollywood
Antonio J. Mendez

January 2019  CIA One among our most legendary Agency officers, Antonio J. “Tony” Mendez, passed away over the weekend after a courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease. Maybe greatest recognized for masterminding the daring 1980 rescue of six American diplomats from Iran, an operation made famous by the movie Argo, Tony shall be remembered for his patriotism, ingenuity, and lifelong dedication to our Company’s mission.

A local of Eureka, Nevada, Tony started working for the Agency in 1965 and spent 25 years as a document counterfeiter and disguise maker in what was then referred to as the Workplace of Technical Providers.

Through the peak of the Cold Struggle, Tony painstakingly devised a variety of crucial deception operations in places like Southeast Asia and the former Soviet Union.

In 1979, Tony and different CIA technical specialists created a dummy film-production company in Hollywood and delivered disguises and documents that made attainable the : The CIA intently held the story till revealing it to the general public for the Agency’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1997. The 2012 award-profitable movie Argo, produced by and starring Ben Affleck, dramatiz ed this story of deception and intrigue for the world to see.

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