As a Canadian editor/writer with a background in journalism, I’m a bit flummoxed by all the criticism of the Oscar-winning Argo. As CTV points out, it was wildly exaggerated for the sake of drama but then so too was The Sound of Music in which Julie Andrews played a kind of hot, singing nun with her eyes on a single dad.
What seems to be missing in the Argo fact-and-fantasy discussion is the much more exciting story about a failed Delta Force mission sent to free the 52 hostages held in the American Embassy. While Jimmy Carter’s Whitehouse was busy negotiating a diplomatic solution, American special forces had more than 100 troops in the Iran’s desert ready to storm the embassy, shoot their way through Tehran and exit in a half dozen attack helicopters.
Within minutes of landing, the commandos blew up a passing Iranian pick up truck (loaded with fuel) and captured dozens of terrified Iranian bus passengers who had happened to see the four large C-130 cargo planes land. Within hours, the mission turned into a worse debacle when a Delta Force helicopter crashed into a fuel plane. Losses included 8 dead Americans, 7 (out of 8 helicopters), a C-130 and the unfortunate Iranian truck driver. The covert American raid on a foreign capital was over before it got started.
I first read about this audacious mission in Atlantic Monthly, April 2006. The Desert One Debacle was written by journalist Mark Bowden (author of “Black Hawk Down”) after information about the mission was declassified. At the time I read the story, I assumed it would be made into a movie — instead we got Argo.
It’s worth a read just to put those crazy times in perspective. Probably won’t ever be a movie because it ends badly. I guess some things are best left as magazine stories that quietly disappear.