Argo and the Stolen Truth About Iran


This year’s Oscar-winning movie ‘Argo’ recently spurred Iran’s former president, Abolhassan Banisadr to write an article about the ‘October Surprise’. In it, he discusses the secret deal between Ronald Reagan and Ayatollah Khomeini which, by delaying the release of the hostages being held in the US embassy in Tehran, swayed the results of the 1980 US presidential election to favour Reagan over the incumbent Jimmy Carter. Banisadr argues that through ‘falsifying, misrepresenting and taking critical facts out of context,’ the film ‘delivers a pro-CIA message,’ and that by portraying Iranians as irrational and aggressive people it prepares the US public to support a war should the current nuclear negotiations fail.

The day after Banisadr’s article was published, Robert Parry, who had written previously about the ‘short-sighted history of Argo’, wrote a second article supporting these arguments. He added that ‘the House Task Force which was examining this so-called October Surprise controversy in 1992 had come to the conclusion that they had found “no credible evidence” of a Republican-Iranian deal had reached such a conclusion only by ignoring important facts and burying a letter from Banisadr letter detailing his behind-the-scenes struggle with Khomeini and Khomeini’s son Ahmad over their secret dealing with the Reagan campaign.

Soon after, Barbara Honneger, a former White House Domestic Policy Advisor who had played a major role in exposing this secret deal, wrote an extended comment on Parry’s article. Her article illuminates how the report by the Task Force, which was chaired by Rep. Lee Hamilton, was nothing but a ‘white wash and cover up.’ One of its members, Dymally, drafted a Minority Report, but Hamilton prevented him from publishing it through bullying and threatening to fire his entire Congressional Staff. Honneger reveals how Banisadr’s letter was coordinated with a two-hour press conference where she presented reporters at the National Press Club with reams of incriminating evidence on the October Surprise cover up (she is now planning to release a videotape of this two-hour press conference). As she writes, this ‘flood of last-minute’ evidence on that historic day implicated the Reagan-Bush campaign in plans in delaying the release of the hostages, and led the Task Force Chief Council Lawrence Barcella to ask Lee Hamilton to extend the enquiry for a further three months. Hamilton refused.

This may seem puzzling at first. Why would Hamilton prefer to produce a ‘white wash and cover up’ report rather than extend the enquiry? The answer could lie in a conversation he had with Banisadr before the Task Force was established. In a personal interview, Banisadr revealed that Hamilton told him if there had been a clandestine deal between Reagan and Khomeini, all governments in the last twelve years would be considered illegal, and that this would be extremely harmful for the political system. Banisadr told him that the price of lying would be even higher, as the American people would lose trust not only in politicians but the entire political system if they became aware of this lie, which soon or late they would.

Here, we can see that Hamilton had already decided to produce his report even before setting up the Task Force, as he had calculated that the price of telling the truth would be extremely high. Had had he told the truth, it is nearly certain that many of the political decisions which have had disastrous global consequences, such as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, would not have taken place.

This brings me to my main point. It is that it is doubtful that Ben Affleck intentionally produced a movie to serve the interests of warmongers in Washington, and more likely that the script is over-reliant on CIA documents. However, reactions to the movie provide us with an opportunity to introduce what Robert Parry calls ‘America’s Stolen Narrative’ so that Americans realize the price that they and the world have paid and are still paying as a result of being lied to.

Oliver Stone once considered making a movie about the October Surprise. If he again considered producing one based on facts rather than fiction, he could make a major contribution to returning this stolen truth to the historical record in the public mind. Recovering this may ultimately thwart the advance of future wars that are already being planned by the very people who helped bring Reagan to power.

Mahmood Delkhasteh is a political sociologist, expert in Iranian revolution and a human rights activist.  He is currently working on a new book based on his doctoral dissertation, Islamic Discourses of Power and Freedom in the Iranian Revolution, 1979-81.

Mahmood Delkhasteh is a political sociologist, expert in Iranian revolution and a human rights activist.  He is currently working on a new book based on his doctoral dissertation, Islamic Discourses of Power and Freedom in the Iranian Revolution, 1979-81.

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxemburg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
Majd Isreb
America’s Spirit, Syrian Connection
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving