CIA uses Twitter to correct ‘Argo’ story


WASHINGTON, November 12, 2014 — Earlier this week, the CIA took to Twitter with hashtags #Reel and #Real to set the record straight about the true story of the exfiltration of six United States State Department employees from Iran in 1980. The story became the basis of the movie “Argo,” staring Ben Affleck.

The CIA publicly acknowledged the role of officers in the Office of Technical Services (OTS) in getting the employees out of Iran during the 50th anniversary celebration in 1997. According to the Agency, the operation went incredibly smoothly with very little drama.

That lack of drama apparently did not play well with Hollywood. Portraying the operation as well-thought out, well-executed, and well supported would have been too boring for movie-goers. So instead, Affleck and Co. inserted excitement where in reality, there was just exceptional execution of a brilliant plan.

On the 35th anniversary of the Iranian Hostage crisis, the CIA decided to use social media to tell its side of the Argo story. The thread started with the Tweet:


Among the movie accounts the CIA corrects is the number of officers involved in the operation. “Argo” suggests Tony Mendez was the only officer involved in the operation, and that he single-handedly organized and executed the plan. In fact, there were two CIA officers “with notable forgery and exfiltration skills” who were involved. The CIA also notes that the tense scene where the six diplomats go to the market to “scout a location” never happened. The six, according to the CIA, spent the entire 79 days inside the homes of the Canadian.

Another misrepresentation, according to the CIA, is that higher-ups cancelled the operation the night before it was scheduled to happen.


The dramatic moment where the airline tickets are not waiting at the counter and guards then call “Studio Six” to verify the identities of the six? According to the CIA, neither of those happened either. The Canadian’s had purchased the tickets and there were no problems at checkpoints or at the airline counter. The CIA officers had intentionally scheduled an early flight when they knew “airline officials would be sleepy & Revolutionary Guards would still be in bed.”

Iranian’s did work to reconstruct shredded documents, but did not identify one of the Americans at the last moment.

The CIA Twitter thread ends with:


The true story is that the CIA planned and executed an excellent operation, with virtually no glitches, that brought six Americans out of Iran and to safety.

For the true account of the operation, by Tony Mendez, click here.

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Lisa M. Ruth
Lisa M. Ruth is Editor-in-Chief of CDN. In addition to her editing and leadership duties, she also writes on international events, intelligence, and other topics. She has worked with CDN as a journalist since 2009. Lisa is also President of CTC International Group, Inc., a research and analysis firm in South Florida, providing actionable intelligence to decisionmakers. She started her career at the CIA, where she won several distinguished awards for her service. She holds an MA in international relations from the University of Virginia, and a BA in international relations from George Mason University. She also serves as Chairman of the Board of Horses Healing Hearts, and is involved with several other charitable organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and AYSO.