by Grover Furr

[First published in The Montclarion [student newspaper of Montclair State College, Upper Montclair, NJ] Sept. 11, 1980, p. 11. ]

IN January 1975 President Gerald Ford told the editors of The New York Times that he had forbidden any inquiry into CIA foreign operations. Such revelations, he said, "'would ruin the US image around the world,' ruin the reputation of every President since Truman, and shock the American people. These operations included everything, even assassinations of foreign leaders." (Harrison Salisbury, quoted in New York Review of Books, Sept. 25, 1980, p. 32). Let us review some facts that, if not covered up by the media, might change public opinion about the "hostage heroes" in Iran.

The US Embassy ran Iran under the Shah; even the Shah himself regularly telephoned for instructions (Fortune, March 12, 1979). Torture by SAVAK, the Shah's secret political police, was rampant (Amnesty International); at least one British businessman personally witnessed it (The New York Times, Village Voice, Dec. 4, 1978). And the CIA was responsible! Jesse Leaf, chief analyst on Iran from 1968-73, has admitted that the CIA taught SAVAK agents torture techniques copied from the Nazis (Seymour Hersh, The New York Times, Jan. 7, 1979; A.J. Langguth, The New York Times, June 11, 1979).

In December 1979 the students occupying the Embassy released copies of documents they claimed were found there. These documents state that at least three of the hostages are CIA agents operating under diplomatic "cover," and that one -- Thomas Ahern -- was given a false name and phony Belgian passport, with instructions on how to activate it (The New York Times, Dec. 5 and 7, 1979).

If true, Ahern at least could be tried and executed as a spy without violation of any international law, since use of a false passport nullifies diplomatic immunity.

Copies of these documents are available from pro-Iranian groups in Europe and the US. I have a set, and am giving copies to my students. The quotations from them in The New York Times articles prove that (a) the American media possess them; and (b) they are the same documents as those released by the Embassy occupiers. The American news media have simply suppressed them.

Again, these documents allege that hostages A. Bruce Laingen, Embassy chargé, and at least several of his higher ranking officers oversaw CIA activities in Iran. By any moral standard they would be answerable for US Government crimes against humanity in Iran. As such, they would deserve moral condemnation and the most severe punishment -- execution.

Why are these facts largely unknown? Because the US news media have once against kept from the American people information vital to our understanding of US criminal activity around the world. Instead, the media have helped the US Government whip up an orgy of racism and chauvinism around the "innocent hostage" issue. Josef Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda, did no more.

Finally, about the low-ranking and military hostages. They too are far from guiltless. There were knowing instruments of a criminal policy. They could have protested or quit; it appears none did. Perhaps a very few were ignorant; the first hostages released in November [1979 -- ed.] returned denouncing US-Iranian policy. But those who were not ignorant deserve condemnation from a morally revolted public; instead they will probably be rewarded by the government.

Khomeini's régime, of course, is rotten with racism against minorities, sexism, anti-communism, oppression of the workers, and more. But most of us know this. What most of us do not know is the immeasurably greater guilt of the US government, including its servants, the "hostage heroes." President Ford told the media, so they know; but they have hidden it from us. Such is the slavishness of the "free and independent" press to the most immoral government requests.

Note, April 1996: Some information that became public after the article above was published:

1. Virtually all the non-military and non-diplomatic hostages were CIA. This is confirmed by the fuzzy photos and selective career biographies which appeared in The New York Times on January 20, 1981, the date of their release. This was the first time most of the "hostage heroes" had been identified in the press, so it was clear that something was going on.

2. The hostages were released to President Reagan as a result of the "October Surprise" deal made by the Republican Administration to ship arms to Iran in return for delaying the hostages' release and guaranteeing Reagan's ship arms to Iran in return for delaying the hostages' release and guaranteeing Reagan's election.

3. In 1986 a Washington correspondent of the New York Daily News, Jerry Gray, told me personally that the Washington press corps had known that the hostages were largely CIA, and had kept this quiet.

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