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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Argo: The True Story

Our chapter on national security and foreign policy contains an extensive discussion of the intelligence community, a topic that is doing fine box office right now.

Argo is a first-rate movie about the rescue of six US embassy employees during the Iranian hostage crisis that began in 1979.  The amazing nub of the story is true: the CIA set up a dummy production company in Hollywood and disguised the six as a movie crew. Argo is not, however, completely accurate.  At Slate, David Haglund points out ways in which the movie departs from history.  SPOILER ALERT:   the biggest departure involves the thrilling climax, so do not read the article until you've seen the movie.

On its website, the Central Intelligence Agency is now presenting a first-person account of the true story by Antonio Mendez, "exfiltration expert"  who got the Americans out (played in the movie by Ben Affleck, who also directed).  Here is a clip from an interview with Mendez:

Click here for the CIA's brief history of the episode.

Here are real-life artifacts: