Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History
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The true, declassified account of CIA operative Tony Mendez's daring rescue of American hostages from Iran that inspired the critically-acclaimed film directed by and starring Ben Affleck, and co-starring John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Bryan Cranston.
On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and captured dozens of American hostages, sparking a 444-day ordeal and a quake in global politics still reverberating today. But there is a little-known drama connected to the crisis: six Americans escaped. And a top-level CIA officer named Antonio Mendez devised an ingenious yet incredibly risky plan to rescue them before they were detected.
Disguising himself as a Hollywood producer, and supported by a cast of expert forgers, deep cover CIA operatives, foreign agents, and Hollywood special effects artists, Mendez traveled to Tehran under the guise of scouting locations for a fake science fiction film called Argo. While pretending to find the perfect film backdrops, Mendez and a colleague succeeded in contacting the escapees, and smuggling them out of Iran.
Antonio Mendez finally details the extraordinarily complex and dangerous operation he led more than three decades ago. A riveting story of secret identities and international intrigue, Argo is the gripping account of the history-making collusion between Hollywood and high-stakes espionage.
weeks stretched on, concern began to grow among the Canadians that the secret of the Americans would get out. Amazingly, the local newspaper in Lee Schatz’s hometown of Post Falls, Idaho, ran a story about his hiding out at “at an undisclosed location in Iran” after the State Department told his mother he was safe but apparently forgot to tell her not to tell the press. In another instance, during a telephone interview, an American citizen named Kim King, who had been at the consulate the day of
reservations. If the story were to be published prematurely, he realized, it could do more harm that good. Later in the afternoon his suspicions were confirmed when he got a call from the Canadian ambassador to the United States, Peter Towe, who asked him to sit on the story until the Americans had gotten out. Pelletier agreed, but the fact that the story was beginning to leak made the Canadian government extremely apprehensive. What was to stop another journalist, one not as sympathetic, from
to meet with NESTOR, and why I was now proposing to headquarters that we send in a team to assess the houseguests. Whatever reason we came up with for them to be in Iran, it had to be something that they could wear as comfortably as a suit, something that became them and was almost second nature to them. No easy task when you are dealing with six amateurs. The State Department had proposed that the six use U.S. documentation and be disguised as unemployed English teachers who had traveled to
said. The following morning, on Thursday, January 10, I called Elaine in and told her to go over to budget and finance to ask for an advance of funds for ten thousand dollars in cash. Our B&F people were world-class bean counters who invented bureaucracy for fun. Ten thousand dollars was the maximum allowed. Anything more required the right hand of God. When Elaine came back with the money, I put it inside one of our concealment briefcases. I knew I would catch flak from B&F, but the money was
meet me at the check–in counter. Ideally, in an operation of this kind, if anything went wrong, we would have a couple of cars waiting outside in case we needed to bug out in a hurry. We had no such backup—no backup plan at all, in fact. Once we got inside the airport and into the teeth of their security, there would be no chance to turn back. All of the houseguests had been through the airport, but I wanted to make sure there were no surprises. Despite being almost like a chicken coop, the